CAN A LANDLORD BREAK A LEASE?: What to Do When Your Landlord Breaks Your Rental Agreement

Can a Landlord Break a Lease
Photo Credit: FindLaw

A lease or rental agreement is a contract subject to the laws governing contracts, and as such, both the landlord and the tenant are legally obligated to follow its terms. A lease agreement can be broken, and this might be because of various factors like eviction or violation by either the landlord or the tenant. If you’re interested in knowing whether a landlord can break a lease to sell the property, before or after signing an agreement for any reason at all, this article’s got you covered. Let’s dive right in.

Can a Landlord Break a Lease?

A landlord can break a lease by ending a contract if a tenant breaks a written rule or if they don’t pay their rent on time. A landlord cannot terminate a lease without valid grounds or reasons. He has limited options and can not break a lease for a couple of months into a year-long lease agreement. Some other reasons a landlord can break the lease are to probably sell the property, renovate or move into the rental. The landlord can break the lease in a number of ways, such as:

#1. Violation of Lease Agreement 

One of the most common ways a landlord can break a lease is through the violation of the lease agreement clause in the rental agreement document. Oftentimes, tenants violate a certain clause in the contract, resulting in the landlord’s breaking the lease. Once a tenant violates a lease agreement, the next step is to serve such a tenant a lease violation notice. Some common lease violation that can make your landlord break the lease includes:

  • Breaching a no-pet policy by keeping pets in the rental
  • Damages to the rental
  • Illicit activities
  • Unapproved roommates Lease Termination without cause

A landlord may also terminate a lease without cause, most likely because they want to move in.

#2. Selling the Property

Your landlord can terminate the lease by selling off the property and requiring you, the tenant, to vacate the property. Or, in most cases, you might get transferred to a new landlord if landlords decide to sell to homeowners. According to the law, tenants are within their rights if they decide to remain in the property even after it has been sold off.

#3. Renovations

A landlord may decide to end a lease if he needs vacant possession for proper renovations, repairs, or remodeling. In most cases, the tenant is within his/her right to refuse to vacate the property in question and might demand compensation from the landlord. As a landlord, you have to ensure you provide a wide range of reasonable clauses that would enable you to break a lease without being penalized by the court.

Can a Landlord Break Lease To Sell the Property?

Whether a landlord can break a lease to sell the property depends on the terms of the lease and how cooperative the tenant is. 

Yes, you may have a clause in your leader that allows you to break the lease early enough, usually after 30 or 60days. This gives the tenant enough time to look around for a new rental apartment or to find another investor who owns a rental apartment.

No, if you have an early termination clause in the lease, you cannot get the tenant to move out just because you decide to sell. A rental agreement contains contractual and property law elements, and the time limit of the rental agreement applies to both the landlord and tenants. As long as the tenant pays the rent on time and takes care of the property, the landlord cannot break a lease to sell without a valid reason.

Can a Landlord Break Lease After Signing?

Yes, a landlord can break a lease after signing it. This is known as “early termination of the rental agreement.” If the prospective tenant terminates the agreement before moving in, he/she must contact the landlord. Breaking a lease opens up an opportunity for the landlord to rent out the space to new tenants. If you lied on your rental application after signing the lease, your landlord can break the lease. He should give you back the money you’ve already paid, but you’d have to give him back the keys.

Can a Landlord Break Lease for Any Reason?

Yes, a landlord can break a lease without cause if the tenant has stayed less than 6 months. When a tenant has stayed for 6 months or more, he must provide a valid reason for breaking a lease. As of July 6, 2022, however, there was a new rule that said landlords had to send all notices of termination to the Residential Tenancies Board (RBT) on the same day they were given to the tenant. This rule applies to both tenants that have stayed in a rental property for less than 6 months and above. If the tenancy is over 6 months, he must provide a legal reason before breaking a lease. Some of them include:

Violation of Lease Agreement Explained

If the tenant violates the agreement, the landlord is within his rights to terminate the lease. Some ways a tenant can violate these terms include:

  • Unpaid rent: If the tenant hasn’t paid rent in 28 days and the RBT has documented rent arrears.
  • The tenant no longer finds the rental suitable. If the property is longer suitable for the tenant, the landlord can decide to break the lease.
  • If the property is to be used for a different purpose, the landlord can break the lease. If the landlord changes the property from residential to commercial, the notice of termination must include the property’s purpose, the work to be done, and the contractor’s name. Landlords can break leases illegally by violating the lease contract terms.
  • The landlord moves into the property. The landlord can break the lease if he decides to move into the property and requires the tenant to leave. A statutory declaration would be required from the landlord, which must be included in the notice of termination. When you send out this notice, you need to include some important information, such as:
  1. The relationship between the new occupants and the landlord.
  2. Identity
  3. How long do they intend to stay?

If the space becomes available again, the landlord must return it to the previous tenant.

Other Ways a Landlord Can Break a Lease Apart from the Above Mentioned Include:

  • Invading your privacy
  • Harassing you
  • Failing to make required repairs to the unit.
  • Invasion of privacy: Landlords who invade a tenant’s complex without prior notice, usually 24 hours, are breaking a lease illegally.
  • Ignoring unit repairs: When a landlord can’t fix toilet pulp or a broken heater, he’s broken the lease.

What To Do if Your Landlord Breaks the Lease Illegally

  • Sue the landlord to court
  • Report to the authorities

Sue the Landlord to Court

Most counties have a special court for dealing with disputes between landlords and renters. Small claims court works best for a tenant who has a case where she/he uses his/her money in making repairs within the rental and is seeking monetary damages and is seeking reimbursement from the landlord.

Reporting to the Authorities

Consider reporting the situation to the authorities, such as the local building inspectors or housing authorities. Before taking such steps, you are advised to send a certified letter to your landlord informing him of your intent to report him/her to the authorities if they continually break the terms of an agreement in the lease documents. Often, this remedies the issues of landlords who have a habit of invading tenants’ privacy.


So that’s it for what you need to know about whether a landlord can break the lease and what to do if he does.

Can a Landlord Break a Lease? FAQs

Can a landlord break a lease after signing?

Yes, a landlord can break a lease after signing. He might do this if he finds out that a piece of certain information that you filled out in the tenant application form turned out to be false. This is a breach of trust, and he can decide to break the lease.

Can a landlord break a lease for no reason?

No, a landlord cannot break the lease without a reason, if he does this you are free to sue.

Can a landlord break a lease for any reason?

Yes, he can if the tenant has not lived in the unit for up to 6months. On the other hand, if the said tenant has stayed up to 6 months and more? He cannot break a lease for just any reason, he must provide valid reasons which are recognized by the law before he can break the lease.

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