Domestic violence a valid reason to break lease

Rent it Right

Learn the New Luxury Playbook at Luxury Connect | October 18-19 at the Beverly Hills Hotel

Q: My tenant has asked me to let her out of her lease so she can move away from her roommate-boyfriend, whom she describes as abusive and dangerous. She says the boyfriend can't afford the place on his own. I said OK, but until I get replacement tenants in there, I'll hold them to their obligation to pay rent. Saying she can't afford to pay rent here and at a new place, she claims this will mean she has to stay. Do I have a legal obligation to let them out of the lease and excuse their responsibility for future rent? --Sabrina M. A: In most states, lease-breaking tenants are indeed responsible for the rent for the balance of the rental term until the landlord has re-rented (and the landlord must take reasonably prompt steps to find new tenants). But several states, including Oregon, Washington, Colorado, North Carolina and Texas, have recognized an exception to this rule and have given domestic violence victims an early termination right. Tenants who participate in federa...