"Is it possible?"
"What will it cost?"
And finally, "Can you help?"
Whether the tenant has already lived in the rental housing for a number of months, or whether they just signed the lease and then decided that they didn't want to move in at all for whatever reason, there's always a way to get out. But breaking a lease isn't automatic, and often comes with some cost.
The financial implications of breaking a lease are important to keep in mind, and often depending on the details of your situation.
Residential leases are often one of two types: a periodic tenancy (a month-to-month or week-to-week lease, etc.) or a term tenancy (a lease for a year, or for six months, etc.) The former can be typically "broken" quite easily, with merely 30 days' notice (10 in the case of a week-to-week) to your landlord. The latter, however, can be a bit more difficult.
Leases are binding contracts between the landlord and the tenant. Thus, breaking the lease is no different than breaching a contract. While the terms of the contract can vary, Oregon statues specify some contract language that must be included., and provide certain terms and limitations that apply to all lease agreements.
For instance, if you signed a traditional one-year term lease and that term is about to expire, unless you sign a new written lease it automatically reverts to a month-to-month lease with the same terms. This allows you to break the lease at any time with just 30 days' notice to your landlord, and no penalty fees. On the other hand, if the landlord wants to break your lease? They have to give you 60 days' notice.
If you're still in the middle of your term lease, however, or even worse if you've signed the lease and your tenancy hasn't yet begun, you're going to need to figure out the best (read: cheapest) way to break your lease.
If the landlord is seeking to charge you a fee to break your lease, the fee must be explicitly provided for in the language of the lease itself. Typically, savvy landlords have leases that provide for the full fee amount allow by law: one and a half month's rent.
If you're wanting to break your lease because you've been the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, or if you've been called into active service duty in the Armed Forces, you have additional rights and protections.
Additionally, you may be able to break your lease with no fee at all if you're doing so is "with cause." What may constitute "cause," however, can be rather tricky.
It can also get particularly difficult, though, if you no longer have a good relationship with your landlord or property manager, if you've fallen behind or otherwise withheld rent payments in recent months and have a balance due, or if there are maintenance repairs or habitability violations on the premises.
If any of these are the case, you'll want to retain a lawyer who can advise you about your tenants' rights and, if necessary, represent you.
If you're considering having to break your lease and you have questions, feel free to contact us for a free consultation.