Breaking a Lease

Landlord is required to be compliant with the Philadelphia Property Maintenance Code and the Warranty of Habitability to enforce a lease term.

In Philadelphia there are many ways for a tenant to break a residential lease before the end of the lease term. The Philadelphia Property Maintenance Code requires landlords to provide tenants with a Certificate of Rental Suitability and Partners for Good Housing Handbook at the inception of the leasehold. If you were not provided these documents the lease may be legally unenforceable. Additionally, the landlord must have an active Philadelphia Housing Inspection License to collect rent. If Landlord is noncompliant with the Philadelphia Code you may have a legal basis to break your lease.

You may break a lease where the property has substantial habitability issues that have gone unaddressed by landlord. For example, if there are significant issues with the property that render it uninhabitable you may have a legal basis to break the lease. Take photographs of the problems and consult with a Philadelphia landlord tenant lawyer about whether you can safely break the lease without legal consequences.

Your lawyer may recommend writing a letter to the landlord providing notice of your intent to vacate. The letter usually includes the specific bases for why you are breaking the lease. This letter may be used in court if landlord sues you for breaking the lease and abandoning the property. It is important to note that landlord may sue you if you break the lease early. Therefore it is important to consult with an experienced landlord tenant lawyer about your options and the likelihood of litigation in the event you decide to leave before the end of lease term.

You may have a legal basis to terminate your lease.

Certificate of Rental Suitability and Partners for Good Housing Handbook

A landlord cannot enforce a lease without providing tenant a Certificate of Rental Suitability and Partners for Good Housing Handbook no more than sixty days prior to the inception of the leasehold.

Implied Warranty of Habitability

The law requires landlord to provide tenant a property that is fit for its intended purpose. An uninhabitable property may warrant a rental abatement or early termination. Speak with an attorney about whether the noncompliance rises to the level of uninhabitable.

Duty to Mitigate Damages

In Pennsylvania a landlord has an obligation to mitigate their damages. Therefore if you vacate early the landlord must show reasonable efforts to rent the property to someone else before collecting rent from you.

Service of Process

In order to sue you for forward damages a landlord must have your forwarding address to effectuate service. If you vacate the property and surrender your security deposit the landlord may have difficulty bringing a claim against you.

Cost of Litigation

In order to bring a claim of early lease termination landlord will have to retain counsel to file a lawsuit. This may be time consuming and expensive. Therefore an attorney may be able to negotiate a reasonable settlement with landlord.

Evidence of Noncompliance

Be sure to document the legal basis for your early lease termination. It is best to send landlord a notice of intent to vacate. This notice can be provided to the court if litigation follows your decision to leave early. Speak with legal counsel about drafting this letter.

We can assist you in terminating your lease early in most cases. Please note that case results depend on a variety of factors and therefore it may not be possible to terminate your specific lease. Call us for a free consultation.

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