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Breaking a Lease in Texas

We are not a legal firm and cannot represent you, nor give specific legal advice. The following is meant to serve as information for tenants and landlords alike. If you need to break your lease or have a tenant trying to do so, please review the lease agreement and consult with legal professionals.

It’s never anyone’s intention to break a lease agreement. However, it happens regularly, sometimes because life gets in the way and other times because tenants are ignorant of the rules. Whichever the case, breaking a lease in Texas is a serious matter.

A lease agreement is legally binding. It specifies what the landlord and tenant must do. Failure to do so, there may be penalties. If you’re a tenant in Texas, here’s what you need to know before breaking that lease.


Lease Terms That Renters Are Most Likely to Break

There’re many ways tenants choose to break leases. After all, the standard Texas Association of Realtors lease is only fourteen pages long. Some terms are easier to break than others, often because tenants aren’t even aware it’s wrong.

Common ways tenants break leases include:

  • Not getting the adequate amount of required renter’s insurance
  • Moving out of a rental unit before the lease duration is through
  • Not giving the landlord prior notice of your intention to move out
  • Letting visitors stay at the rental for long periods of time
  • Not getting approval before installing equipment – security systems, locks, etc.

It doesn’t matter if you move into a rental property in Dripping Springs or a downtown apartment in Houston. Breaking a lease is the same regardless of where you live in Texas.


Legal Reasons to Break a Lease in Texas

There are a few instances where you can legally break your lease in Texas. This means that you won’t bear any legal or financial penalties. If you are wondering how to get out of a lease in Texas you may be eligible to legally move out before the lease term ends in the following situations.

·      When military duty calls

legal-ways-to-get-out-of-lease-texasTenants who sign up for an active duty term in the United States Armed Forces can break their Texas lease. You should, however, provide the landlord with a notice. In Texas, the notice should be at least 30 days.

You must be part of the “uniformed services”:

  • The activated National Guard
  • Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service
  • Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • The armed forces

Sec. 92.017 of the Texas Property Code has more details.

·      Your landlord violates your privacy or harasses you

As a tenant in Texas, you have a right to privacy. However, Texas does not have a state law that specifies the number of days of notice your landlord must give you to enter your rental unit. In most states, the notice is usually 24 hours.

You will be “constructively evicted” if the landlord repeatedly violates your rights to privacy. When the landlord does things such as changing locks, shutting off utilities, removes doors, etc. or “self-help” eviction, you are considered “constructively evicted”.

Under these circumstances, you would have no further responsibility to continue paying the rent and you would be justified to break the lease.

·      The rental unit is unsafe or violates TexasHealth or Safety Codes

texas-landlord-tenant-lawsAgain, you would be considered “constructively evicted” if the landlord provides uninhabitable housing. You would not have any further responsibility to continue paying rent.

The specific requirements for the procedures you must follow are contained here (section 92.052.).

The problem must be truly serious, for instance, broken locks, lack of heat, mold growing, etc. for this to be grounds for breaking the lease in Texas.

·      You’re a victim of sexual assault or stalking

Under Texas Property Code, you can break a lease if you’re a victim of stalking or sexual assault. You must meet certain conditions such as producing a protective order as proof.

The lease automatically terminates 30 days after issuance of a written notice.


Landlord’s Duty to Find a New Tenant in Texas

No matter your reason for leaving, you may still be off the hook for paying all rent due for the remaining lease term. This is because, in Texas, the landlord must“mitigate damages” by finding a replacement tenant.

Therefore, you may end up only paying a fraction of the remaining rent. In re-renting the unit, the landlord doesn’t require to rent the unit for less than the fair market price. Also, tenants must be qualified.

The landlord can also add legitimate expenses to your bill. Such expenses may include costs for screening new tenants and those for advertising the rental unit.

Sadly, you’ll be liable for paying rent for the remainder of your lease term if the landlord fails to re-rent your unit. This amount could be substantial.


How to Minimize Your Financial Burden When Breaking a Lease in Texas

·      Review your contract

texas-lease-agreementYour lease includes all the important details about your legal obligation. You may discover that your lease isn’t even a fixed-term one.

·      Sublet your rental unit

Check your lease agreement to see whether it’s possible to sublet. If possible, it may enable you to sublet your lease to another person without incurring any financial penalty. However, you’ll still be required to continue adhering to the lease terms.

·      Know your rights

There’re many useful resources where you can do your research. You may discover that your rental agreement isn’t actually enforceable by law. It is important to know the Texas Tenant Rights when breaking a lease.

·      Provide as much notice as possible

breaking-lease-in-texasYou can help the situation by providing as much notice as possible. The notice should state why you need to move out early.

·      Look for violations

You may have grounds to break the lease if the landlord is in violation of the lease agreement. Examples of violations include safety violations such as exposed electrical wiring or unfulfilled repair promises.

Send a written notice and save a hard copy for yourself whenever the landlord violates a lease term. These can then be used as evidence in court.

·      Clean and vacate the premises before you attempt returning it to the landlord

Understand the terms of your lease regarding the return of your security deposit. This may help you get as much security deposit as possible.

·      Offer your landlord a qualified replacement tenant

The qualified tenant should be someone with good credit and excellent references.


Most landlords will not be happy if you attempt to break your apartment lease. In fact, most will say “no” if you ask. To avoid heavy legal and financial penalties, try working out a resolution.


Are you worried about a lengthy vacancy in the event that your tenant needs to break their lease early? Real Property Management Services guarantees to have a new tenant placed in your rental property within 30 days. Check out our management plans and contact us online or call at 806-853-6546.

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