Breaking a lease is, in and of itself, a violation of the terms. A lease is a legal contract that provides financial security for both parties involved when renting out a house: the tenant and property owner. However, it can happen when either party no longer wants to abide by the lease, and therefore, chooses to end it.
When a tenant leaves the rental unit before the lease expires without paying the rest of the rent to the property owner, this is called "breaking the lease." As a landlord, you want reliable tenants who, in fact, extend their lease to stay long-term. You can learn how to attract these kinds of tenants here.
There are many reasons a tenant may choose to break a lease. In Nevada, here are some of the most common reasons.
A tenant may need to/want to:
- Move closer to a new job.
- Move into a newly bought home.
- Serve in the military as a serviceman.
- Leave their housemate.
- Move in with someone else.
- Upsize or downsize.
Now, breaking a lease often carries some consequences. These tend to be financial but can also extend further into legal action. That's why it's important to have a strong familiarity with fair housing laws.
As a renter, the following are just some of the potential consequences you can face for breaking a lease. You risk:
- Facing hefty fines. Generally, this fine is often the equivalent of one- or two-months' rent. In other cases, you could be liable for paying the rent remaining under your lease.
- Getting sued. A lease is a contractual agreement. When you sign it, you promise to abide by all its terms. So, when you break it early, you risk ending up in court.
- Hurting your credit score. Your creditworthiness could be negatively impacted if your landlord reports you to a collection agency or takes you to a small claims court.
- Limiting your housing options. Landlords often run screening tests on prospective tenants. This process often includes checking and verifying a prospective tenant's credit rating and rental history. If the landlord finds out you broke a lease in the past, the chances of renting to you will be greatly diminished.
Notice Requirements for Breaking a Lease in the State of Nevada
Tenants in Nevada aren't required to provide their landlords with notices for fixed-term leases.
The statewide law requires a tenant to furnish their landlord with two notices: the week-to-week lease termination notice (NRS 40.251) and the month-to-month lease termination notice (NRS 40.251).
7 Legal Reasons to Terminate a Lease in Nevada
The Nevada landlord-tenant law provides some special circumstances in which a tenant can legally break a lease without penalty.
If you're a tenant, here are 7 legal reasons to break a lease:
1. Violation of the Lease by the Landlord
If your landlord violates the lease agreement, you may be able to break it without facing any repercussions. No two agreements are ever created the same. Therefore, it's important to go through yours to understand whether a violation has actually been made.
The following are some common violations:
- Failing to provide habitable rental premises.
- Accessing the property without serving notice beforehand.
- Changing the terms of the lease without providing notice.
- Discriminating against you in violation of Nevada Fair Housing laws.
- Harassing you to move out before your term ends.
2. Victim of Domestic Violence
If you're a victim of domestic violence, you may be eligible for early termination rights. You may, however, need to meet certain requirements. For example, the violence must have occurred in the last ninety days and show proof that you obtained a restraining order.
3. Landlord Harassment
As a tenant, you have the right to quiet enjoyment of your home. As per the statute (NRS 118A.330), you have a right to receive at least 24 hours' notice before the landlord can enter your premises. The only exception is if there is an emergency.
Your landlord may require entering your unit to do various things such as make requested repairs, inspect the property, or to show the unit to potential tenants or lenders.
4. Unhabitable Premises
In the U.S., each state has specific safety, building, and health codes that rental properties must adhere to. Nevada is by no way different.
Some of the conditions include:
- Proper functioning of facilities and appliances.
- Properly maintained stairways, ceilings, walls, and floors.
- Clean, sanitary and vermin free appurtenances, grounds, building and all other areas under the control of the landlord at the time of moving in.
- Adequate number of appropriate receptacles for rubbish and garbage.
- Code-conforming electrical wiring, outlets, and equipment.
- Adequate heating facilities that conform to all local laws.
- Code-conforming plumbing facilities.
- Effective waterproofing and weather protection of exterior walls and roof, including doors and windows.
5. Active Military Duty
Active service members that need to relocate due to change of station or deployment are protected by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). To qualify for this protection, you need to meet three requirements.
- Prove that the lease agreement was signed prior to entering active military duty.
- Prove that they will remain on active duty for a minimum of ninety days.
- Provide the landlord with a written notice of the deployment as well as a copy of the orders.
6. Early Termination Clause
There are certain leases that provide tenants with a leeway to end their leases early so long as certain conditions are met. The conditions may include providing adequate notice and paying a penalty fee.
7. Old Age or Mental/Physical Disability
Nevada law also allows older citizens (60 years and above) and those with a mental or physical disability to terminate their lease if their care or medical treatment requires moving to a new location.
Landlord's Responsibility to Find a New Tenant
Landlords in Nevada are required to make reasonable efforts to re-rent the unit after a tenant has terminated their lease. This helps mitigate damages, as you'll still be in the hook for paying the rent remaining under the lease regardless of whether you live there or not.
If your landlord is successful in getting a new tenant, then your penalties might be greatly diminished. However, if they don't, then you'll have no option than to continue paying rent due under the lease.
Managing a property requires skills, experience, and knowledge of the law. That's why savvy landlords/property owners trust professionals in the management of their properties. An experienced property management company like Evolve Nevada can help you with all your property management needs.