Lease agreement document with keys and pen

Tenant Rights to Break a Lease

Allegheny Attorneys at Law, P.C. April 4, 2023

In Pennsylvania, lease agreements are usually established between the property owner and the renter outlining the terms and conditions for renting or leasing a unit. In most cases, tenants who sign the lease agreement often intend to stay in the apartment for the entire lease period. However, a tenant may want to terminate their lease early to join the military or if the unit is uninhabitable. 

At Marc V. Taiani, Esquire and Allegheny Attorneys at Law, P.C., I have the diligence and expertise to assist and direct clients in the legal matters of early lease termination. As a knowledgeable Pennsylvania real estate law attorney, I can enlighten you about some legal reasons to break a lease and the rights of both the tenant and landlord when a lease is broken. My firm proudly serves clients across Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Beaver County, and Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. 

Legal Reasons a Tenant May Break a Lease  

A lease can be described as a contract between a landlord and tenant that outlines the terms for renting the property. The lease agreement gives the tenant (lessee) the right to use or live in the rental unit for a particular period of time. 

According to statistics from the NMHC Rent Payment Tracker, about 92.0% of 11.8 million renters nationwide made full or partial payments as of December 2021. Here are some valid reasons to break a lease agreement in Pennsylvania: 

  • The rental unit is uninhabitable or violates Pennsylvania safety or health codes. 

  • You are starting active military duty. 

  • Your landlord violates your privacy or harasses you. 

  • There is an early termination clause in your lease agreement. 

  • Your landlord violated the terms and conditions of the lease agreement. 

  • You are a victim of domestic violence. 

  • Your landlord failed to disclose the necessary documentation, vital information, or specific policies about the rental unit before you moved in. 

  • The lease agreement is illegal or unenforceable. 

  • You are a senior citizen with a qualified disability or health Issue. 

A trusted attorney can analyze your case, determine whether you have legal reasons to break a lease, and fully explain your landlord’s rights when a lease is broken. 

Landlord’s Rights When a Lease is Broken  

Generally, breaking a lease without any justifiable or legal reason may result in penalties, fines, and other consequences to the tenant. Your landlord may be entitled to: 

  • Cover the amount you owe using your security deposit. 

  • Take legal action against you to recover the rent for the remainder of your lease. 

  • File a lawsuit against you in Pennsylvania small claims court seeking damages of up to $12,000. 

Therefore, to avoid any of these penalties and legal repercussions, it is advisable that you discuss them with your landlord prior to moving out of the rental apartment. 

Landlord’s Requirement to Re-Rent  

However, unlike some other states, there are no laws in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that require the landlord to re-rent the property as soon as possible to mitigate damages. Hence, if you intend to break a lease and move out of the rental unit before your lease ends, you should notify your landlord early to work out a feasible compromise. 

Furthermore, you can inform your landlord using a written letter or notice explaining your reasons for vacating the unit early. You can also help by recommending an eligible replacement tenant who has good references and credit. However, if your landlord doesn’t agree, you will still be responsible for paying the remaining rent on your lease. 

Protecting Your Rights Every Step of the Way 

Under Pennsylvania laws, both the landlord and tenant are required to honor the terms and conditions of the lease agreement. However, despite your best intentions, you may want to move out of the rental unit before the end of your lease. A reliable real estate law attorney can explore your options to break a lease early and help you navigate crucial decisions. 

At Marc V. Taiani, Esquire and Allegheny Attorneys at Law, P.C., I enjoy offering outstanding legal services and guiding clients through the challenging procedures involved in early lease termination. As your attorney, I can look at every detail of your situation and conclude if you have a justifiable reason to terminate your lease. In addition, I will reach out to your landlord on your behalf, help you negotiate the most favorable compromise, and avoid possible penalties. 

Contact me at Allegheny Attorneys at Law, P.C. today to speak with a reliable landlord-tenant law attorney. My firm proudly serves clients across Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Beaver County, and Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.