Ending A Rental Lease Early

Authored By: Lagniappe Law Lab

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About Ending A Rental Lease Early

In Louisiana, if you want to end your lease before the agreed-upon end date, there are important things to know. Both landlords and tenants have rights and responsibilities according to the laws in Louisiana and the lease agreement you signed. 

To understand the rules for ending your lease early, carefully read the lease agreement you signed. Look for sections that talk about ending the lease early, subletting, or transferring the lease. These sections will explain the specific steps, penalties, and conditions for breaking the lease. The agreement may require you to give a certain amount of notice, like 30 days, and if you end the lease early you might not get back your security deposit. 

When you decide to end your lease early, it's a good idea to let your landlord know in writing. Your written notice should say that you want to terminate the lease early, the date you plan to move out, and any reasons why you want to leave early. It's important to communicate clearly with your landlord and talk about why you want to end the lease early. Try to find a solution that works for both of you.

If you don't have a written lease agreement, your tenancy is usually considered month-to-month. In this case, you need to give your landlord at least 10 days' notice before you move out to avoid any problems. Write a letter to your landlord saying that you want to end the tenancy early and include the date you plan to move out.

What You Need To Know

Under Louisiana law, the notice requirement for ending a lease early may vary depending on whether you are in a year-long lease or a month-to-month lease. Here’s a general overview of the notice requirements for both types of leases: 

  • Year-long lease: If you are in a year-long lease agreement and wish to terminate it early, the notice requirements may not be explicitly outlined in the law. Review your lease agreement to see if it specifies the notice period or other requirements for early termination. If the lease does not specify the notice period, providing a written notice at least 30 days before the intended termination date is generally considered reasonable. 

  • Month-to-month lease: For tenants in month-to-month leases, the notice requirements under Louisiana law are as follows: 

    • If you have lived in the rental unit for less than five years, you must provide a written notice to your landlord at least 10 days before the end of the rental period (usually a month). For example, if your rent is due on the first of each month and you want to terminate the lease at the end of August, you should provide written notice to your landlord by August 20th.

    • If you have lived in the rental unit for five years or more, you must provide a written notice to your landlord at least 30 days before the end of the rental period.

    • If you do not have a written lease, then your tenancy is generally assumed to be a month-to-month tenancy.

The consequences of ending your rental lease early can vary depending on the terms of your lease agreement, your rights under Louisiana law, and the cooperation of your landlord. Here are some common consequences you may encounter: 

  • Financial Penalties: Many lease agreements include provisions for early termination, such as a penalty fee or requiring you to pay rent until a new tenant is found. These fees can be a predetermined amount or a prorated portion of the remaining lease term. Read your lease to understand any financial obligations or penalties included in your lease agreement. 

  • Loss Of Security Deposit: If you terminate the lease early, your landlord may withhold some or all of your security deposit to cover any unpaid rent, damages, or other costs associated with finding a new tenant. 

  • Negative Rental History: Terminating a lease early can leave a negative mark on your rental history, making it more challenging to secure future rental agreements. Landlords may view an early termination as a sign of unreliability or financial instability, which could impact your ability to rent in the future. When applying for future rental properties, landlords who request references from previous landlords may get unfavorable references.

If you need to end a rental lease early because the property is uninhabitable or unsafe for living, you may have rights and legal options to terminate the lease. 

Thoroughly document the specific problems or conditions that make the rental unit uninhabitable. This can include issues such as severe mold growth, structural damage, plumbing or electrical problems, pest infestations, or other substantial defects that affect your health and safety. 

Notify the landlord in writing by sending a written notice to your landlord, detailing the specific problem and stating the rental unit is uninhabitable. Provide a reasonable deadline for the landlord to address the issues and make the necessary repairs or improvements. You may need to use the repair and deduct procedure if the landlord does not make the repair, making the repair yourself, and deducting the expenses from your next rental payment. If the landlord fails to address the issues within a reasonable time, you cannot make the repairs, or the problems pose an immediate threat to your health and safety, you may have the right to make other temporary repairs or seek temporary alternative housing.

Under Louisiana law, tenants may be afforded certain protections when terminating their tenancy early in specific circumstances. These protections primarily arise in situations involving job relocation for individuals on active military duty or instances of domestic violence. 

  1. Job Relocation For Active Military Duty: Tenants who are serving in the military and need to terminate their lease agreement due to official military orders or a change in duty station for at least 90 days have the right to terminate their lease agreement without incurring significant penalties. 
    • The tenant must provide written notice to the landlord, along with a copy of the military orders, specifying the termination date, which must be within 30 days of providing notice.
    • Upon receiving the notice, the landlord is required to release the tenant from the lease within 30 days of receiving the written notice. 
    • The tenant will only be responsible for rent up to the termination date specified in the notice, and any prepaid rent or security deposits must be refunded within 30 days. 
  2. Domestic Violence: In cases involving domestic violence, Louisiana law offers certain legal protections for tenants who are victims of abuse and need to terminate their tenancy early to ensure their safety. 
    • The tenant must provide written notice to the landlord, along with supporting documentation or evidence of the domestic violence, such as a protective order, police report, or a statement from a qualified professional (e.g. therapist, social worker, etc) confirming the abuse.
    • Upon receiving the notice and supporting documentation, the landlord is required to release the tenant from the lease within 30 days of when you make the request on a date agreed upon by you and the landlord.
    • The tenant will only be responsible for rent up to the termination date specified in the notice, and any prepaid rent or security deposits must be refunded within 30 days.  

In Louisiana, landlords have a responsibility to try their best to rent out the property again as soon as possible when a tenant ends the lease early. This is called "mitigating damages." What it means for you is that you might not be held accountable for paying the entire remaining rent if the landlord successfully finds a new tenant. However, until a new tenant is found, you may still be responsible for paying the rent. 

In some cases, you might have the option to find a replacement tenant yourself, which is known as subletting or assigning the lease. But before you do that, you need to get your landlord's approval and follow the proper procedures mentioned in your lease agreement. It's essential to talk to your landlord about this and try to come to an agreement that works for both of you. 

If the landlord wants to end the lease early, the process and consequences may differ from when a tenant ends the lease early. Here’s a general overview of what can happen when the landlord wants to terminate the lease early: 

  • Review the lease agreement: Read through the lease agreement to understand any provisions related to early termination by the landlord. Look for any clauses that discuss the circumstances under which the landlord can end the lease early and the notice requirements involved. 

  • Notice to the tenant: The landlord typically needs to provide written notice to their tenant indicating their intention to terminate the lease early. The notice period and the specific requirements may vary depending on the terms of the lease agreement and Louisiana law. 

  • Security deposit refund: If the landlord ends the lease early, they may be required to refund the tenant’s security deposit, typically after deducting any unpaid rent or damages.

If there are multiple people who have signed a lease agreement to live together in a rented property, and one of them wants to end the lease before the agreed-upon end date, it can have consequences for all the roommates. In such a situation, if one roommate requests early termination, it typically means that the entire lease agreement will come to an end. This means that all the roommates who are part of the lease will be expected to move out of the rental property. 

When one roommate wants to terminate the lease early, it is usually considered a mutual decision to end the lease for everyone involved. This is because lease agreements are generally binding contracts that hold all the tenants responsible collectively. If one person wants to leave, it can affect the legal obligations and financial responsibilities of all roommates.

In most cases, terminating the lease early due to the request of one roommate will require the cooperation of the landlord. They may require all the tenants to move out, even if the other roommates would have preferred to continue living in the rental property. It is essential to carefully review the terms of the lease agreement and consult with the landlord or seek legal advice to understand the specific rights and responsibilities in such a situation.

It's important to communicate openly and honestly with all the roommates and the landlord to reach an agreement that works for everyone involved. This could involve finding a replacement tenant or negotiating with the landlord to make alternative arrangements. Remember, each situation may be unique, so it's crucial to understand the specific terms of the lease agreement and applicable laws in your jurisdiction to make informed decisions.

Steps You Can Take When Considering To Cancel Your Lease Early

Steps You Can Take When Considering To Cancel Your Lease Early

If you need to request the early cancellation of your lease, you can follow these general steps.

Steps You Can Take When Considering To Cancel Your Lease Early

Carefully read through your lease agreement to understand the terms and conditions related to early termination. Look for sections that talk about ending the lease before the agreed-upon end date. Pay close attention to any penalties or fees you might have to pay if you terminate early. Note any specific rules about giving notice to your landlord and how much notice you need to provide. 

Under a year-long lease agreement in Louisiana, if you plan to terminate the lease early, you typically need to provide your landlord with a 30-day notice. This means that you must inform the landlord at least 30 days before the date you intend to move out. Giving proper notice ensures that you fulfill your obligations as a tenant and allows your landlord time to make necessary arrangements. 

In a month-to-month lease agreement, or where there is no lease agreement, you generally need to provide your landlord with a 10-day notice. This means that you must inform the landlord at least 10 days before the date you intend to move out.

Identify and gather any supporting documentation or evidence that demonstrates a valid reason for your request to terminate the lease early. Valid reasons could include job relocation for military personnel, domestic violence situations, health issues, or other circumstances specified in your lease agreement or protected by law. 

For example, if you're in the military and received official orders to move to a different location, you would need to provide a copy of those orders as evidence. If you're a victim of domestic violence, you might gather documents such as a protective order, police reports, or a statement from a professional who can verify the abuse. If your health is a concern, you might provide medical records or a letter from your healthcare provider.

By collecting and organizing this supporting documentation, you can strengthen your case for early lease termination. It demonstrates to your landlord that you have a valid reason for wanting to end the lease early, and it helps ensure that your request is taken seriously and evaluated properly under the law.

Initiate a conversation with your landlord to discuss your situation. Explain your reasons for wanting to terminate the lease early and provide any supporting documentation you have. Be clear and honest in your communication, and try to maintain a cooperative and respectful approach.

Engage in a discussion with your landlord about potential alternatives or solutions. This could include finding a replacement tenant, subletting the property, or negotiating a lease termination agreement with mutually agreed-upon terms. Explore all available options and try to find a resolution that works for both parties.

Keep a record of all communication with your landlord, including dates, times, and details discussed. This documentation can be useful if any disputes or issues arise later.

If you decide to proceed with early termination, provide written notice to your landlord as specified in your lease agreement or under Louisiana law. Include the reason for termination, proposed termination date, and any supporting documentation, if applicable. It’s important to adhere to any specific notice periods mentioned in your lease agreement or required by law to ensure you comply with the necessary procedures.

If you encounter difficulties or if your landlord is unresponsive, consider consulting with an attorney to understand your rights and options. It’s important to approach the process in accordance with the terms of your lease agreement and applicable laws.

Last Review and Update: Jun 20, 2023
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