How Can You Terminate a Lease Early with Minimal Consequences?
As a general rule, both residential and commercial leases are for a specific period of time. Either party to the lease may, however, desire to terminate the lease before the end of the lease term. If the lease document does not provide a means of legally doing this, the party who terminates the lease will be considered to be in breach. There are certain situations, however, when a landlord or a tenant may rightfully terminate a lease early. What are those situations? How can you limit any duty to pay rent for the entire term of the lease if you break it prematurely?
What Duties Are Imposed on Tenants Who Sign a Lease in Arkansas?
The terms of a lease establish certain rights of tenants:
- The right to habitable premises—In every other state, there is either an express or an implied warranty that the premises will be livable. Arkansas, however, does not recognize any such warranty. Accordingly, you cannot terminate a lease early in Arkansas because by alleging violation of any warranty of habitability. You may, however, as discussed below, terminate a lease if the property violates state health or safety codes
- The right to exclusive use of the premises for period of the lease
- The right to be free of rent increases, unless permitted by the lease agreement
Tenants also have specific responsibilities in Arkansas:
- Tenants must pay rent in a timely manner
- Tenants must typically refrain from engaging in activities that constitute a public nuisance, such as loud parties
- Tenants must refrain from damaging the premises or allowing situations where the property may be subject to damage
When Can a Tenant Legally Terminate a Lease Early in Arkansas?
The state of Arkansas allows early termination of a lease in a few limited circumstances:
- You are called up for active duty with the United States military—If you are in the reserves at the time you sign the lease, and are subsequently ordered to report for active duty in any branch of the armed services, federal law grants you the right to legally terminate a lease. You must, nonetheless, provide your landlord with notice. This will terminate your lease effective 30 days from the date that your next rent payment is due.
- The premises are in violation of state health or safety codes—Your landlord must comply with state laws governing basic health and safety in a rental unit. If your landlord fails to repair an issue within 30 days of receiving notice, you can legally terminate the lease without liability for further rent.
- You are subject to harassment or invasion of privacy by your landlord—In Arkansas, your landlord does not need your permission to enter the premises. However, if this happens on a regular basis, it may constitute a “constructive eviction.”
Does Your Landlord Have a Duty to Find a Replacement Tenant?
If you terminate a lease early, can your landlord choose to take no action and collect rent payments from you for the remainder of the term? Generally, no.
Landlords have a duty, when a tenant leaves, to take reasonable steps to find another tenant to pay the rent. There’s no obligation, though, when you break a lease early without a valid reason, for your landlord to move quickly and minimize your potential liability. To avoid paying rent for an apartment you’ve left, provide your landlord with as much advance notice as possible and write a letter explaining why you have to terminate the lease. If you can, find someone who will take over your lease.
Contact the Experienced Landlord-Tenant Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we provide comprehensive counsel to residential and commercial tenants involved in a wide range of disputes with landlords. We offer a free initial consultation to every prospective client. To speak with a knowledgeable and aggressive real estate law attorney, contact us by e-mail or 844-402-2992 call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.