When a tenant breaks a lease agreement, it can cause landlords a lot of problems. However, there may be circumstances where the tenant has a good reason to do so. One of the most common scenarios is when there is domestic violence.
Landlords need to be informed about what to do when it comes to breaking a lease because of domestic violence.
Why is Breaking a Lease Due to Domestic Violence Necessary?
More than 10 million women and men experience domestic violence each year, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. That’s 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men, so it’s an issue that landlords are likely to run into sometimes.
Domestic violence is the abuse of a spouse or partner and includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse. Often children are also involved or are witnesses to the abuse.
With domestic violence, experts recommend that the victim leave the situation and the abuser as soon as possible for their own protection.
State Laws About Breaking a Lease Due to Domestic Violence
Many states have enacted laws that allow people suffering from domestic violence to break their lease agreement. The conditions for breaking a lease carries minimum penalties to help them get out of the situation quickly. In most states, the victim must provide the landlord with either a valid order of protection or a report from a qualified third party, such as the police, a health care professional or domestic violence advocate.
In most cases, the victim is responsible for the rent for the entire month in which they vacated the property. Some require the landlord to change locks per the victim’s request at no cost. Depending on the state, the security deposit is not refundable or is partially refundable.
It’s important for landlords to check out the laws on this topic for their state so they know exactly what to do to protect their financial interests as well as the well-being of the victim.
RentPrep’s Take On Breaking a Lease Due to Domestic Violence
The landlords we associate with know the importance of learning the law before any domestic violence incident occurs.
As always, landlords must comply with the laws as outlined for their state. For those states that don’t have provisions for breaking a lease due to domestic violence, landlords should come up with their own generous policy.
Ultimately, landlords want good tenants in place but domestic violence can change everything about a lease agreement. If a domestic abuse survivor needs to vacate, landlords should make it as easy as possible to help them get to a better and safer life.
What Are Other Landlords Saying About Breaking a Lease Due to Domestic Violence?
Here’s a screenshot of landlords discussing this question in our private Facebook group for Landlords.
You can see even more comments on that post by checking it out in the group.