A Guide to Breaking a Lease In Georgia

Can you break your lease early in Georgia without facing penalties? Maybe, but it depends on your reason for leaving. Learn more here.
Written by Melanie Krieps Mergen
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Whether you can avoid facing penalties for breaking a lease in
depends on your reason for leaving. It’ll also largely depend on the details of your lease agreement and Georgia landlord-tenant laws.
Sometimes, you just have to leave a rental earlier than you anticipated. Maybe a new job offer requires you to move, you decide to buy a home and no longer need your rental, or you’re in the unlucky situation of living in an apartment that fails to meet required standards.
Whatever’s necessitating your early move,
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is here to give the rundown on what you can expect if you’re considering breaking your lease early in Georgia.
If you’re renting your apartment under a fixed-term lease, you’ve agreed to live in and pay rent for the apartment for a specified amount of time. If you back out of your lease before the end date that you and your landlord agreed to, it’s possible that you could face costly penalties.
However, as a tenant in Georgia, there are certain circumstances that can allow you to break a lease early without consequence, as long as you’ve taken the required steps to do so. Some of those circumstances include:
  • Tenant is starting active military duty, including for the armed forces, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Guard, and the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service
  • The landlord has been harassing the tenant or violating their privacy rights, which could include entering a unit without providing the appropriate prior notice
  • The rental unit is uninhabitable or violates health and safety codes, and the landlord has not corrected the problem(s) despite tenant requests
If you’re breaking your lease early in Georgia for one of the reasons above, you shouldn’t have to worry about any penalties as long as you’ve taken the required steps for your situation, like giving your landlord the required amount of written notice or gathering evidence needed to make your case.
In some states, even if you’re breaking your lease early for a reason that isn’t legally protected, a landlord may be required to make a reasonable effort to find a new tenant before you’d be responsible for any remaining rent. Unfortunately, Georgia isn’t one of those states.
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What are the penalties for breaking a lease in Georgia?

Outside the reasons listed above, it’s possible you’ll be responsible for making continued rent payments or paying a penalty fee. Your landlord could even sue you in small claims court as a result of breaking your lease early in Georgia.
The total costs you could end up paying as a result of breaking your lease early could be a sum of the following:
  • Remaining rent while the property is vacant
  • Any costs associated with your landlord searching for a new tenant (if they’ve chosen to do so), like advertising costs
  • Penalty fee(s)
  • Difference between your old rent and a new tenant’s rent if your landlord had to lower their rent rate to find a replacement
  • Other applicable costs
Depending on the details of your lease agreement, it’s possible you have a termination clause that states whether you’ll face an early termination fee for breaking your lease early, and if so, how much it will cost. 
It’s common for landlords to require one or two months’ worth of rent in this case. 
Depending on your situation, it might be tempting to just pay the fee, terminate your lease, and move on. In other cases, you might prefer to explore other routes to see if you can avoid kissing any additional cash goodbye.

How to break a lease without a penalty in Georgia

Because your landlord isn’t obligated to find a new tenant themselves, how to break a lease without penalty in Georgia, if possible, is largely going to depend on the terms of your lease and what it says about the consequences of early termination
Here are some ways you could increase your odds of avoiding penalties for breaking your lease early in Georgia:
  • Review your lease agreement. Pay attention to what it says about early termination, how much notice your landlord wants if you’re leaving early, whether any fees are involved, and how much those fees would cost. It may also tell you whether subletting or lease transfers are allowed.
  • Notify your landlord well in advance of your departure. If finding a replacement tenant is a viable option in your situation, the sooner your landlord knows you plan to leave early, the sooner one or both of you can begin searching for a new tenant—increasing the odds that you won’t have to worry about remaining rent. 
  • Negotiate with your landlord. Even if subletting or lease transfers aren’t allowed under your lease terms, your landlord may be willing to make an exception or come to an alternative agreement that works better for both of you. 
  • Find a replacement tenant yourself. In Georgia, landlords aren’t required to try and find replacement tenants if you break your lease early, but they may be willing to consider potential subletters or a
    lease transfer
    if you’re able to find someone who would meet the necessary requirements.
Whatever your reason for breaking your lease early, knowing the details of your lease agreement, your rights and obligations as a tenant, and communicating early with your landlord are all essential for avoiding penalties when possible in Georgia.

How to save on renters insurance in Georgia

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While COVID-19 isn’t a legally protected reason to break a lease early in Georgia without penalty, depending on your circumstances, it might be possible to negotiate a solution with your landlord that works for both of you.
Not necessarily. If you can cover any associated costs with breaking your lease early before they become overdue, it shouldn’t affect your credit score.
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