As a tenant, you agree to follow the terms of your lease, including how long you will live there. If you need to break your lease to move out early, you may have to pay fees to your landlord. Tennessee landlord and tenant laws allow both verbal and written leases. The steps you follow to break your lease depend on the type of lease agreement you have with your landlord.
How to Break a Verbal Lease
Notify your landlord in writing that you plan to end your lease. Mail the letter using certified mail as soon as you know you will need to leave the rental property.
Pay the last month's rent if you plan to move after the first of the month. According to the landlord and tenant laws, a verbal lease is only valid for one month. You are liable for the full month's rent if you stay in the property past the first of the month.
Move out by the due date and remove all of your personal belongings from the property.
How to Break a Written Lease
Read your lease carefully for an early termination clause. Your landlord may have included a special provision that allows you to leave early by paying a fee.
Notify the landlord in writing that you plan to move out. Provide a specific move date. Keep a copy of the letter.
Discuss your move with your landlord. If you have an early termination agreement, pay the fee listed in the lease and request a receipt from your landlord. If you do not have an agreement, the landlord must attempt to rent the property to a new tenant. You are liable for any rent due between your move out date and when the landlord re-rents the property, as well as reasonable damage charges and attorney fees if the landlord incurs any.
Move out on your stated move-out date. Take all of your personal belongings out of the rental unit. Provide your landlord with your new address.
Pay for any remaining rent or other fees after the landlord rents the property. Request that the landlord provide you with an invoice showing the rent due and any fees he incurred. Keep a copy of the invoice and get a receipt for your payment.
If your landlord charges an unfair amount, or does not attempt to rent the property to a new tenant, you can sue the landlord in civil court. Keep a record of every conversation you have with your landlord. These records will help you prove your case in court.
- Legal Aid of East Tennessee: Your Rights as a Tenant Under the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act
- U.S. Landlord: Tennessee Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act
- Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute. "Tenancy at Sufferance." Accessed Sept. 11, 2020.
- New York State Unified Court System. "Tenant Questions & Answers in Holdover Eviction Cases." Accessed Sept. 11, 2020.
- If your landlord charges an unfair amount, or does not attempt to rent the property to a new tenant, you can sue the landlord in civil court. Keep a record of every conversation you have with your landlord. These records will help you prove your case in court.
Amelia Jenkins has more than eight years of professional writing experience, covering financial, environmental and travel topics. Her work has appeared on MSN and various other websites and her articles have topped the best-of list for sites like Bankrate and Kipplinger. Jenkins studied English at Tarrant County College.