- Real Estate
How to Write a Letter to Terminate a Lease
If you’re renting a commercial space, rental home or apartment, you may wish to move to a new property at the end of the lease term. You may also wish to opt out in the middle of a lease term using an early termination clause if you’ve found a better space or have suddenly found your current location undesirable. In either case, you’ll need to write the property owner a lease termination letter that details the reasons why you aren’t going to renew or continue the lease.
Before you write a letter to terminate a lease, review the terms and conditions of your lease agreement or rental agreement. If you’re attempting an early lease termination, research what penalties you’ll incur and consider whether it’s worth it to pay these additional fees to end your lease a few months early. You may also be able to negotiate with your landlord to pay a portion of what you owe to ensure both sides end the lease on good terms.
What to Include in a Lease Termination Letter
If you wish to proceed with the lease termination, write a letter that states your full name as listed on the lease, the date you originally signed the lease agreement and the date it will end. Point out that you’ve completed the term of your lease and aren’t required to pay any penalties for early termination. If you are ending a lease early, point out the penalties you know you’ll be required to pay and include the reason for wanting to break the lease.
Add a list of dates that you’ll be available for your landlord to inspect the rental home, apartment or commercial office space. Be present during the walkthrough to discuss any items that he may consider damaged or in need of cleaning. At this time, you should be able to determine how much of your security and cleaning deposits you’ll get back or be able to calculate how much in additional fees you’ll owe.
In the lease termination notice, let the landlord know exactly when you’ll be disconnecting the utilities, such as gas and electric if you were responsible for starting those yourself. This will allow him to start up new services for the next tenant.
Include the date you plan to return the property keys and officially move out. Although you’ve listed this date in your lease termination letter, understand that it may change depending on the negotiations with your landlord, particularly if you’re trying for an early termination of tenancy. Point out that you will follow up with your future address so your landlord can forward mail or any other items to you if necessary.
Ensure your landlord receives the letter—and you receive proof that he has—by either sending it with signature confirmation, through a carrier such as Federal Express or UPS with signature required or by certified mail which will provide a return receipt. Send the letter early enough to provide at least 30 days’ notice if you hope to break a lease early or check the terms of your lease agreement for the required notification period if you want to end the lease on time.
Get your landlord’s signature on the document ending the lease and ensure the lease contract is dated correctly. (Some leases have automatic renewal features that will roll your lease over into another term if you go past a specified date.) Ask for a receipt for payment and ensure the document details the fact that you left the property undamaged and do not owe any cleaning, pet or maintenance fees.
Getting Assistance with Lease Termination
If your lease, particularly a commercial lease, seems too complicated to end on your own, consider consulting an attorney to study your lease to find any provisions that you need to cover as you end your lease or any loopholes that may allow you to end it early without significant penalty. For example, a valid reason, such as a job relocation, military duty, medical complications, and a landlord failing to make agreed-upon repairs or breaking a clause in the lease may allow you to break a lease early without penalty.
Your lease agreement may also have a clause that allows you to find a new tenant to take over the lease. An attorney may also help you iron out the terms of this deal. This is particularly important because you don’t want to be held liable in the event the new tenant damages the property, breaks the lease early or refuses to pay rent.
Above all, when writing a lease termination letter, ensure your writing in the typewritten letter is clear and concise and the information is accurate and complete. Keep the tone formal, but friendly, and conclude that you’re open to any questions, comments and concerns about the lease termination process.