Knowing the terms and conditions of a comprehensive lease or rental agreement is necessary for a successful tenancy. It starts with the signing of the lease or rental agreement by both parties; the tenant and the landlord, placing them liable to its written terms and conditions as covered by law. In fact, preparing a well written lease of contract that covers legal responsibilities as guided by a lawyer may benefit both landlord and tenant from future legal issues.
A signed agreement may require the tenant to stay for a certain period such as one year but certain situations may not allow the tenant to finish the term. For example, as a student in UNC, you would only need to stay for a certain period when the school is in session. Can this be considered breaking the lease or is there some protection indicated for such situations without the legal liability for the rent?
Breaking the Lease in North Carolina
A typical rental agreement covers two main important rules: First, a landlord can’t increase the rent or change the terms on the agreement; and second, the landlord can’t force you to move out before your lease agreement ends unless you violated major terms in the contract. Still, in such a case, landlords in North Carolina must follow specific procedure in ending the tenancy. In cases where a tenant violates significant terms such as, failing to pay the rent, or conducting huge and noisy parties threatening peace and order, then the landlord must perform the following steps: Issue a 10 day notice to pay the rent or leave (North Carolina Gen. Stat 42-3). This, the landlord must perform before he can file an eviction lawsuit. Or, the landlord may give an unconditional quit notice requiring the tenant to move out immediately (N.C. Gen. Stat 42-26 (a)) upon noncompliance as specified in the lease term.
Justifiable Exceptions in Breaking the Lease
A tenant is obliged to pay full rent for the entire lease term, typically one year whether he lives in the rental unit or not. This is the blanket rule, which protects the landlord, on the other hand, with a few exceptions to protect the tenant.
1.) If you are a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault and some other forms of violence, provided that you secure a court order of protection.
2.) Unsafe or unhealthy rental unit violating North Carolina health safety codes. Serious problems such as lack of heat, unlivable housing due to molds or bed bugs and bed bug bacteria, lead-based paint or hazards, are just some landlord liabilities but not limited to. Under these conditions, the court may conclude that the landlord purposely evicted you, leaving you no further responsibility for the rent.
Fortunately, in the event that you intend to break the lease without a justifiable reason, you may still not be liable to pay the rent for the remaining lease term. This is due to the fact that the landlord must by all means find a tenant to re-rent the unit under North Carolina law. You may however pay the amount your landlord lost for leaving early and this is part of your effort to keep your financial responsibility to a minimum. Apart from helping your landlord find a qualified replacement tenant, it would be best to write a sincere letter explaining why you are leaving early. This gesture could ensure you a good reference from your landlord as you look for the next place to live.