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Understanding the lease termination process

Lease termination and eviction are obviously understandable and significant concerns for renters. Depending on the circumstances, both state and federal laws, as well as the terms of the lease contract, govern how a lease may be legally terminated. It is important to be familiar with the circumstances under which a landlord is permitted to terminate a lease for protection of the renter's rights and peace of mind.

Most states permit a landlord to terminate a renter's lease if the renter fails to pay rent; violates a clause in the lease contract; or violates a responsibility imposed upon the renter by law. The landlord is required to send written notice of termination to the renter. Though the name of the notice may vary by state, it is typically referred to as a pay rent or quit notice which requires the renter to pay rent within a certain period of time or vacate the premises; a cure or quit notice which requires the renter to correct the violation of the lease agreement within a certain period of time; or an unconditional quit notice which requires the renter to vacate the premises without the opportunity to pay rent or cure the violation alleged.

If the renter does not abide by the notice, the landlord can begin the eviction process. Eviction is a legal process that begins when the landlord files a complaint against the renter in court. The renter has the opportunity to provide an answer to respond to the complaint. If the landlord prevails, the court orders the physical removal of the renter from the premises which can be enforced by law enforcement officers. Additional complexities can result in landlord tenant relationships when the renter needs to break the lease.

Because of the importance of housing stability for renters, it is essential for them to be familiar with the lease termination and eviction processes and their other rights and remedies as renters. Because laws may vary by state, yet provide important protections for renters, it is necessary for renters to be familiar with the laws in their state that protect them.

Source:, "Terminating a Lease or Rental Agreement: FAQs," Accessed May 18, 2017

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