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How Long After Signing a Lease Can You Back Out?

how long after signing a lease can you back out

After you sign a lease, you are bound to it? There are certain circumstances that may allow you to back out of a lease. In this article, we’ll take about how long after signing a lease you can back out.

Signing a lease agreement is a significant commitment that binds both landlord and tenant to fulfill their respective obligations for a specified period. However, certain circumstances may arise that make it necessary for a tenant to consider backing out of a lease. Generally, it is quite challenging to terminate a lease once it has been signed, but there are situations in which a tenant can legally do so. The specific conditions regarding the lease termination vary depending on the jurisdiction and terms outlined in the lease agreement itself. It’s important to review the lease agreement carefully and consult with legal professionals to understand your rights and obligations.

Common Factors That Affect a Tenant’s Ability To Back Out of a Lease after Signing

Here are some common factors that may affect a tenant’s ability to back out of a lease after signing:

Cooling off period: In some jurisdictions, there may be a cooling off period that allows tenants to cancel a lease shortly after signing which is typically within a few days. This period exists to protect tenants from making impulsive decisions and allows them to reconsider their commitment. The duration of the cooling-off period varies depending on local laws. In Oklahoma, there is no statutory cooling-off period or specific provision in state laws that allows tenants to back out of a lease within a certain period without consequences. So, once a tenant signs a lease agreement, it is generally considered a binding contract. Both parties are expected to fulfill their obligations unless there are specific provisions or circumstances outlined in the lease agreement that allow for early termination.

Lease Contingencies: Lease agreements often include contingencies that provide tenants with an opportunity to terminate the lease agreement under specific circumstances. These contingencies may cover situations like failure to secure financing, unexpected changes in employment, or unforeseen health issues. It is necessary to thoroughly review the lease agreement before signing and understand the contingencies outlined.

Early termination clauses: Some lease agreements also include early termination clauses that outline the conditions under which a tenant can terminate the lease agreement before the agreed-upon end date. These clauses usually require the tenant to provide advance notice, pay a penalty fee, or fulfill specific conditions outlined in the agreement. The tenants should carefully review the terms to understand the requirements and potential costs associated with early termination of the lease agreement if an early termination clause exists.

Mitigation of Damages: In situations where a tenant wishes to terminate the lease agreement early without an applicable clause or contingency, the landlords have a legal obligation to mitigate their damages. This means that the landlords must make reasonable efforts to find a new tenant to minimize the financial impact that is caused by the tenant seeking to terminate the lease. The tenant may still be responsible for paying rent until a replacement tenant is found, but their liability may be reduced by the new tenant’s rental payments.

Negotiation with the landlord: If a tenant finds themselves in situations where they might need to break the lease agreement, then it may be worth discussing the matter with the landlord directly. Establishing open communication and negotiating with the landlord may lead to mutually agreeable solutions like finding a new tenant, subletting, or reaching a compromise on lease termination terms. However, any changes to the lease agreement should be documented in writing and signed by both parties to avoid future disputes.

Different Ways A Lease Agreement Can Be Terminated

Cooling off period is not commonly included in the lease agreements, however, there are still circumstances where you can terminate a lease agreement.

State laws in Oklahoma allow tenants to break a lease but under certain circumstances.

There are some additional ways you can back out of a lease agreement.

Here are some ways a lease agreement can be terminated:

Military Service: The members of the military are protected by the service members civil relief act, which allows them to terminate a lease if they receive relocation orders. This applies to current military personnel, reserves, National Guard members, and even those who enlisted during the lease. Generally, 30 days’ notice is required and you would need to pay for the time you resided in the rental.

Domestic violence: Many states have laws that allow victims of domestic violence to break their lease without penalty. These laws typically require the tenant to provide appropriate documentation, such as a protective order or a police report, to prove the occurrence of domestic violence.

Tenant’s Death: In the unfortunate event of a tenant’s death, the lease agreement is generally terminated. However, specific procedures and obligations may vary depending on state laws and the terms outlined in the lease agreement.

Landlord’s Failures: If a landlord fails to fulfill their obligations, such as providing essential services like water, electricity, or heat, the tenant may have grounds to terminate the lease agreement. This typically requires the tenant to provide written notice to the landlord and allow a reasonable amount of time for the issues to be resolved before terminating the lease.

Stalking or Sexual Violence: Some states have laws that permit victims of stalking or sexual violence to terminate their lease agreements early. Similar to domestic violence situations, tenants may be required to provide appropriate documentation, such as a restraining order or a police report.

Job Relocation: If a tenant is required to relocate for work-related reasons, such as a job transfer or a new employment opportunity in a different location, they may be able to terminate their lease agreement. This often requires providing proper notice to the landlord and, in some cases, providing evidence of the job relocation.

School Enrollment: In certain circumstances, a tenant may be able to terminate a lease agreement if they need to move to attend a specific educational institution. This could include situations where a student gains admission to a college or university in a different city or country.

Medical or Family Reasons: Some jurisdictions may allow tenants to break a lease due to significant medical issues or family-related reasons. This could include situations where the tenant or a close family member requires long-term medical care or faces other compelling circumstances.

Landlord Harassment or Retaliation: If a landlord engages in harassment or retaliation against a tenant for exercising their legal rights, the tenant may have grounds to terminate the lease agreement. This can include actions such as unjustified rent increases, entering the rental unit without permission, or interfering with the tenant’s quiet enjoyment of the property.

Illegal Activities or Nuisances: If a landlord engages in illegal activities on the rental property or allows significant nuisances to persist, tenants may have the right to terminate the lease agreement. This typically requires providing appropriate notice to the landlord and, if necessary, involving local authorities to address the issues.

Conclusion

Backing out of a lease agreement after signing is generally more challenging than simply changing your mind. The lease agreements are legally binding contracts that require careful consideration before signing. While a cooling-off period is not commonly provided, there are circumstances where tenants may have recourse to terminate a lease.

The specific rules and options for lease termination vary depending on jurisdiction and the terms outlined in the lease agreement. Some common ways a lease can be terminated include a mutual agreement between the landlord and tenant, early termination clauses, lease violations by the landlord, specific legal protections such as military service or domestic violence situations, and other qualifying circumstances outlined by state or local laws.

Contact OKC Home Realty Services for any kind of queries regarding rental services. We offer houses for rent in OKC and neighboring metro areas.

FAQs

Can You Terminate a Lease Agreement as a Tenant?

Yes, tenants can terminate a lease agreement in certain circumstances such as military service, domestic violence, job relocation, school enrollment, medical or family reasons, landlord failures, landlord harassment, illegal activities, or nuisances. Procedures and requirements may vary, so it’s recommended to consult a legal professional or local housing agency for guidance.

When Can You Terminate a Lease as a Tenant without a Penalty?

Tenants can terminate a lease without penalty under specific circumstances such as military service, domestic violence, job relocation, school enrollment, medical or family reasons, landlord failures, landlord harassment, illegal activities, or nuisances. However, procedures and requirements vary, so it’s best to consult a legal professional or local housing agency for guidance.

What happens if you break a lease agreement?

If you break a lease agreement, there can be several consequences. You may face financial penalties and be required to pay a portion of the remaining rent. Your security deposit may be forfeited, and it could negatively affect your rental history, making it harder to find future accommodations. Additionally, the landlord may take legal action against you, potentially leading to eviction or a lawsuit for financial losses. It’s important to understand the terms of your lease and try to negotiate with your landlord if you need to terminate the agreement.

What types of things are included in a lease?

A lease typically includes the following information:
1. Names and contact information of the landlord and tenant.
2. Property details, including address and description.
3. Lease term, start and end dates.
4. Rent amount, due date, and accepted payment methods.
5. Security deposit requirements and refund conditions.
6. Utilities and services responsibility.
7. Maintenance and repair obligations.
8. Property use restrictions.
9. Landlord’s access and entry provisions.
10. Termination and renewal procedures.
11. Legal disclosures and local law requirements.
Remember to carefully review and understand all lease terms before signing.

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Author

Scott Nachatilo

Hi, I’m Scott Nachatilo and I own a property management company in Oklahoma (OKC Home Realty Services, LLC). We help landlords and real estate investors to manage their property in OKC

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