If you’ve broken the terms of your rental agreement, you may be wondering if your landlord can terminate your lease. In some situations the answer is yes. You want to do your best to follow the rules and conditions of your contract so that you can keep your home, keep your positive tenant history, and avoid any legal or financial penalties. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you risk eviction, here’s what you need to know about when your landlord can terminate your lease.
Does a landlord have the right to terminate a lease?
Yes, a landlord may have the legal right to terminate a lease in certain situations.
If a tenant violates the terms of a rental agreement, a landlord may be able to end a lease and require tenants to vacate their property, provided they provide formal and appropriate notice. The actions a landlord can take against tenants who have violated the terms of an agreement depend on the severity of the violations and whether the tenants are dealing with or rectifying the issues.
When can a landlord terminate a lease?
A landlord can terminate your lease if and when you violate specific aspects of your rental agreement. Your rental agreement is a legally binding contract that you and your landlord sign, showing that you have both read, understood, and agree to the terms.
Here are some situations in which a landlord can terminate your lease:
- If your lease explicitly prohibits animals (or certain types of animals) and you keep a pet or prohibited animal in your rental
- If you live with someone who is not on the lease, that is, you allow someone to spend more than the number of days and nights per week allocated in the rental unit
- If you sublet your rental without the express authorization and participation of the owner
- If you do not pay the rent amount as stated in the rental agreement
- If you regularly pay rent late and / or refuse to pay late fees
- If you cause significant damage to the property or fail to request or perform general maintenance as specified in the rental agreement
- If you do not support vital utilities, such as water or electricity, to the unit that would keep it in good working order
- If you are caught participating in illegal activities, such as those related to illicit drugs, on site
- If you are caught participating in unsafe behavior that could cause harm to yourself, others or property on site
What happens when your landlord terminates your lease?
If your landlord finds that you haven’t followed the terms of your lease, they can take the following steps to terminate your lease:
1. Check and present the documentation of your breach of the terms of the lease
Many states require the landlord to prove that a tenant has violated certain terms of the lease. This proof may include copies of written warnings they gave to a tenant, such as late payment notices or noise complaints. Evidence may also include police reports documenting illegal activity. Depending on your landlord, you may receive this proof with your final notice or termination.
2. Provide (final) advice to resolve the issue
Many landlords provide a formal final notice to deal with an issue that can be resolved, such as relocating a pet that is not allowed to live in the unit or paying rent due and late fees. In fact, some states may require landlords to send a number of formal warnings or notices to tenants before seeking to terminate a lease or evict a tenant. Before officially terminating your lease and evicting you, landlords are likely to give a final notice, often with proof of why they are asking for this action.
3. Serve a notice of termination of the lease
If the landlord cannot get you to fix the issues or if the issues cannot be resolved, your landlord will serve you a Lease Termination Notice stating why your lease is terminated, when you must vacate the premises, and all actions. that they might take against you if you don’t comply. Most states require homeowners to provide this notice and a vacancy date within a certain time frame. This period may vary from state to state.
4. Deduct repairs and other charges from the security deposit.
If the rental has suffered damage, the landlord may be able to deduct this charge from your security deposit, and then charge you an additional fee if it depletes the deposit. The extent to which your landlord can deduct from your deposit depends on whether:
- The damage is more than normal wear and tear.
- You have broken the terms of the lease.
- Your state allows homeowners to deduct from the security deposit and what they allow.
Landlords can fix the issue of any tenant who doesn’t pay an additional fee minus the court filing, so make sure you pay those fees in full and on time to avoid further legal action.
5. Seek legal action in the courts
If a tenant refuses or can’t pay the rent owed and late fees, repair costs minus the deposit, or resolve other issues regarding the termination of the lease, a landlord can sue them. These procedures and results may depend on the reason the lease was terminated and the damages sought by the landlord.
If you have not broken the conditions of the lease
It’s important to note that your landlord can also choose not to renew your lease when it expires at the end of the term. In this case, your landlord does not have to give a reason why he does not allow you to renew your lease. However, that doesn’t mean you did anything wrong, and you can check with your landlord just in case.
A landlord must always give you notice of non-renewal of a lease within the notice period provided for in the lease. This notice period is generally 30 days for a month-to-month or other short-term lease, or 60 to 90 days for long-term leases.
The best way to prevent your landlord from terminating your lease, ordering an eviction, or seeking legal action against you is to follow the rules of your lease. Work hard to pay rent on time to avoid paying late fees or damaging your reputation as a tenant. Always communicate your rental unit’s maintenance issues to resolve them as quickly as possible.