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Can I Break My Lease If I Buy a House?

There are no laws in the U.S. that allow renters to automatically break their lease when they become a homeowner.

We’ll be straight with you: there are not a lot of reasons that you can legally break your lease without your landlord’s permission. Although the laws do vary slightly by state, in general they only cover newly deployed or reassigned members of the military and victims of domestic violence.

Still, there’s a pervasive myth floating around that says renters are allowed to break their lease early if they’ve bought a house. There are other versions that say the rule applies to first-time homebuyers, specifically. Neither is true, regardless of your state.

What if my lease has a “home-buying clause”?

There’s a slim chance that your lease may contain a “home-buying clause” that allows you to terminate your lease early, as long as you give a certain amount of notice (typically around 60 days) and provide documentation of the purchase. But if you’ve already re-read your lease agreement and it includes nothing of the sort, then you’re in the same boat as anyone else who needs to terminate their lease early without a legally-sanctioned reason.

So are you saying I’m stuck with my lease?

Not at all! Just because you can’t break your lease automatically doesn’t mean you can’t end it at all. You’ll just have to go through the same process as anyone else who needs to break their lease early. In general, you have four options: subletting, assigning, paying a lease break fee, or moving out and relying on your landlord to mitigate damages.

Any other tips for renters who are house-hunting?

One quirk of homebuying is that it’s hard to know when, exactly, you’ll end up closing the deal. So if you’re nearing the end of your lease while still house-hunting, instead of renewing for an entire year, talk to your landlord and see if you can negotiate switching over to a month-to-month rental agreement. Some landlords may increase the rent slightly in return, since a month-to-month arrangement offers them less financial security. But in most cases, the additional rent will be cheaper than the cost of an early termination fee if you end up needing to leave a year-long lease only a few months in.

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.