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Rental Lease Termination

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					                            LEASE TERMINATION

You must read your lease carefully because different leases set out different methods of termination. If you don’t
follow the correct procedure, you may find yourself stuck with the unit for a longer time than you wanted and/or with
extra expenses.

As a tenant, you have the power to terminate your lease early. However, this termination may be considered breaking
the contract between you and your landlord. The landlord may have claims against you for unpaid rent until the lease
expires or until the landlord re-rents the unit, whichever comes first. The landlord cannot hold you responsible for
rent beyond your lease term unless you do not give proper notice of termination, and, even then, the landlord cannot
charge you rent indefinitely.
Many landlords will tell you that you cannot move out of your rental unit before the end of the lease. This is not the
case. You can move out and end the lease early, but you do risk being sued by the landlord. The landlord’s claims
against you can rightfully include requests for unpaid rent for the unit from the time you stopped paying rent until the
end of the lease or until the landlord re-rents it, damage you caused to the unit, and any actual re-rental costs the
landlord incurs. In addition to filing a lawsuit, the landlord can report your unpaid rent to a credit bureau or have a
debt collection agency try to collect the rent from you.
When you leave a rental unit early, whether you are responsible for unpaid rent depends on your reasons for leaving.
For serious reasons for which the landlord is responsible, such as the landlord not repairing major problems with the
unit after you properly notified him/her in writing of the problems and waited 30 days as required by Ohio law, you
may not be liable for unpaid rent. If you are having problems that are severe enough to terminate your lease, you
should seek legal advice. Oftentimes there are other remedies available, both before and in addition to terminating
your lease. See the “Getting Repairs” and “Rent Escrow” informational packets.
If you don’t have a valid reason to terminate the lease (for example, you can no longer afford the rent payments, you
have found a place you like better, you no longer get along with your roommate, or you have to move out of town),
you will be responsible for any unpaid rent until the end of your lease term. However, Ohio law requires landlords to
reduce their damages by making a reasonable attempt to re-rent the apartment as soon as possible. If the landlord is
able to re-rent the unit, you may only be held responsible for rent while the apartment remained empty, any re-rental
costs, and charges for any damage you did to the unit. It is generally best to let your landlord know as early as
possible that you will be terminating the lease so that your landlord will have plenty of time to start looking for a new
tenant.

Regardless of how your lease ends, you may still have the right to get your security deposit back, either 30 days after
the lease expires or 30 days after the landlord re-rents the unit. Whether or not you have a right to get your security
deposit back depends on the condition in which you left the unit and whether you have any outstanding charges owed
to the landlord. If you terminated the lease wrongfully and you owe rent to the landlord, your landlord can use your
security deposit to cover any rent owed. If you think you are entitled to the return of any portion of your security
deposit, give your landlord a forwarding address in writing. See the “Security Deposits” informational packet for
additional information.

Many leases have provisions automatically forfeiting a certain amount of your security deposit if you break your
lease. These provisions are generally not enforceable. The landlord can recover from you any actual re-rental costs,
but the landlord probably doesn’t know these ahead of time. The landlord cannot simply penalize you financially for
breaking the lease.
If you are terminating the lease without a valid reason, you may be able to sublease the apartment to reduce your
liability to the landlord. This means that you will find another tenant to take your place and pay rent to the landlord.
Remember that you are still liable if the subtenant fails to pay rent or damages the apartment. Make sure that you get
permission from your landlord before finding a subtenant. If you do not want to sublease the apartment, you can
terminate the lease and move out. At that point, it becomes the landlord’s duty to mitigate damages by trying to find
another tenant to take your place.


                                             Student                 Housing
                33 West 11th Avenue•Columbus, Ohio•43201             Ph:(614) 247-5853•Fax:(614) 247-5851•http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/shlc/
                                                      Legal Clinic
If you are terminating the lease without a valid reason, you can also reach a settlement, or “buyout,” agreement with
your landlord. This means that you both take a gamble. You agree to forfeit your security deposit and/or pay a few
months’ rent in return for being let out of the lease agreement. The landlord agrees to accept less than the full amount of
rent owed. Any “buyout” agreement should be put in writing and signed by both parties. But be careful—some
landlords call agreements “buyouts” when really you are just agreeing to forfeit your security deposit and/or pay rent or
a fee, while you are still liable for any unpaid rent due under the lease. Make sure that your landlord gives you a
statement in writing that in return for your payment, that the lease will terminate and you will not owe any additional
rent.

Terminating Annual Leases
READ YOUR LEASE! Even though your lease may have a set term (such as from September 15th to August 31st),
many state in the fine print that you still must give 30, 45, or even 60 days written notice of termination. If you do not
give the notice required in your lease, you may be liable for additional rent. Some leases state that if you do not give the
required written notice of termination, that you will be responsible for a whole year of additional rent. These provisions
may be enforceable. Because leases differ so dramatically, it is important to understand the termination procedures in
your agreement.

Terminating Month-to-Month Leases or Oral Agreements
In a month-to-month lease, either you or the landlord can terminate the lease with 30 days notice. It is best for you to
put this notice of termination in writing. This means that you must give the landlord notice a full 30 days before the next
date rent is due. The most effective time to give notice of termination in a month-to-month lease is the day before your
rent is due. If you give notice of termination on February 28th and pay your rent on March 1st, you will be able to leave
by April 1st. Note that the landlord has the same termination power, and you may be left with only 30 days to find a new
place to live. If you properly terminate a month-to-month tenancy, you are entitled to the return of your security deposit
within 30 days, absent any unpaid fees or charges for damage beyond reasonable wear and tear.

Terminating Leases for Failure to Repair or Breach of the Lease Agreement
If your landlord has failed to fulfill his/her obligations under the Ohio Landlord Tenant Law or has breached your lease
agreement, you may be entitled to terminate your lease agreement. Generally the problem needs to be significant in
order to terminate the lease. If your landlord has failed to make repairs that materially affect health and safety, you need
to first give the landlord written notice of the problem. The landlord then has a reasonable amount of time, up to 30
days, to complete the repairs. If the landlord has not completed the repairs at the end of that time, you may be entitled to
terminate your lease. See the “Getting Repairs” informational packet for additional information.




THIS INFORMATIONAL PACKET ONLY REFERS TO OHIO LAW AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE
LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU NEED LEGAL ADVICE, YOU MUST CONTACT AN ATTORNEY. THE LAW
MAY HAVE CHANGED SINCE THE DATE OF THIS PUBLICATION. 12/07




                                12/07 • The Ohio State University Student Housing Legal Clinic
        Termination of Lease Due to Failure to Repair




Date:                   _______________________________________

Landlord’s Name:        _______________________________________

Landlord’s Address: _______________________________________

City/State/Zip Code: _______________________________________


Dear ____________________________ (landlord):


Section 5321.04(A)(2) of the Ohio Revised Code (O.R.C.) requires landlords to make all repairs and do whatever is
reasonably necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition. You have violated this
requirement by failing to maintain this unit in a safe, decent, and sanitary condition. Furthermore, I provided written
notification listing breaches of your duty on ______________________ (date of letter).

A reasonable amount of time or thirty (30) days have lapsed and the conditions mentioned earlier still remain
uncorrected. Ohio law authorizes a tenant to terminate a lease or rental agreement when the landlord receives written
notice of any breach of the landlord’s obligation under the Ohio Landlord Tenant Act, local health and safety codes,
and/or the lease agreement and fails to correct it within a reasonable amount of time up to thirty (30) days. Therefore,
since you have breached your responsibilities, I am terminating my rental agreement for the premises located at
________________________________ (rental address) and will be moving out of the premises on ___________
(date of move).

Furthermore, I request that the security deposit in the amount of ____________ be returned to me within thirty (30)
days of the lease termination as required by O.R.C. Section 5321.16.

Thank you for your attention and cooperation in this matter.

Cordially,

All Tenant Names and Signatures           ______________________________________

                                          ______________________________________

                                          ______________________________________

Current Address _______________________________________________________

Forwarding Address _____________________________________________________

Phone Number _________________________________________________________

cc: copy retained for my records
    Notice to Landlord of Lease Termination by Tenant
   (Termination of month-to-month tenancy / Termina-
      tion notice required by the terms of the lease
                       agreement)



Date:                    _______________________________________

Landlord’s Name:         _______________________________________

Landlord’s Address: _______________________________________

City/State/Zip Code: _______________________________________


Dear ____________________________ (landlord):

This letter is to inform you that I will be terminating my rental agreement for the premises located at
                                                            (rental address) effective                        (date).
I am providing this termination notice because
                                                                                      (end of lease term, notice required
by lease, termination of month-to-month tenancy).

Ohio law grants landlords the right to deduct from the security deposit for damages beyond reasonable wear and tear.
Therefore, I would like to inspect the premises in your presence in order to document the condition of the property.
Please contact me immediately in order to schedule a convenient inspection time. Furthermore, I request that the
security deposit in the amount of ____________ be returned to me within thirty (30) days of re-renting or within
thirty (30) days expiration of the lease agreement, whichever comes first.

I apologize for any inconvenience and thank you in advance for your attention this matter.

Cordially,

All Tenant Names and Signatures           ______________________________________

                                           ______________________________________

                                           ______________________________________

Current Address _______________________________________________________

Forwarding Address _____________________________________________________

Phone Number _________________________________________________________


cc: copy retained for my records
   Notice to Landlord of Lease Termination by Tenant



Date:                   _______________________________________

Landlord’s Name:        _______________________________________

Landlord’s Address: _______________________________________

City/State/Zip Code: _______________________________________


Dear ____________________________ (landlord):

This letter is to inform you that I will be terminating my rental agreement for the premises located at
                                                            (rental address) effective                       (date).
I am providing this termination notice because
                                                                                      (reason for vacating the premises,
such as moving out of town due to a job, etc.)

Ohio law requires a landlord to mitigate damages by re-renting the premises as soon as possible.

Ohio law grants landlords the right to deduct from the security deposit for damages beyond reasonable wear and tear.
Therefore, I would like to inspect the premises in your presence in order to document the condition of the property.
Please contact me immediately in order to schedule a convenient inspection time. Furthermore, I request that the
security deposit in the amount of ____________ be returned to me within thirty (30) days of re-renting or within
thirty (30) days expiration of the lease agreement, whichever comes first.

I apologize for any inconvenience and thank you in advance for your attention this matter.

Cordially,

All Tenant Names and Signatures           ______________________________________

                                          ______________________________________

                                          ______________________________________

Current Address _______________________________________________________

Forwarding Address _____________________________________________________

Phone Number _________________________________________________________


cc: copy retained for my records

				
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