How to Break an Apartment Lease in Texas

Written by J. Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

In the Lone Star State, there are three general ways to get out of a residential lease. The first and most amicable method is to allow the rental agreement to expire. The second way is also amicable, and it requires that the landlord and tenant sit down and mutually agree to terminate the lease before it comes to an end. The third general way is not so cordial; it essentially involves moving to terminate because one of the parties broke the terms of the agreement.

The foremost challenge when breaking a lease in Texas is for the tenant to avoid being obligated to pay the full term of the lease even if he or she leaves the property early. There are situations, however, that allow tenants to get out of their rental obligations without having to pay until the end of the contract.

Protective Orders

If a tenant is granted a protective order due to domestic violence and abuse, the lease can be terminated as soon as the court issues the order.

Harassment by Landlords

Although the law in Texas does not protect tenants from their landlords entering their properties without previous notice, certain actions may constitute harassment and even intent to carry out an unfair eviction. For example, if a landlord suddenly changes the locks without explanation, the tenant would have reason to think that he or she have been forcefully evicted. Evidence of this sudden change of locks should be collected and documented by the tenants in case the situation ends up in court.

Joining the Military

Tenants who sign up for an active duty term in the United States armed forces can break their Texas lease as long as they provide notice to their landlords at least 30 days before reporting for duty.

Violations of the Texas Health Code

If a landlord allows the rental properties to fall into a state of disrepair that render it unlivable under the Texas Health and Safety Code, tenants are allowed to begin actions to break their lease. Some of these cases may call for representation by legal counsel.

In the end, many landlords would be willing to agree to an amicable termination of the lease if tenants give them sufficient advance notice. This is specially the case in housing markets where rental demand is high. To this end, tenants should always attempt to reach a polite agreement of early lease termination.

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