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By Melanie Krieps Mergen
Updated on Jul 5, 2022
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff, Staff Editor.
If you break your lease early in Ohio, it’s possible that you could still be responsible for paying rent for the remainder of your lease. However, depending on your reason for leaving, you might be able to avoid costly penalties.
You might have fully intended to stay in your apartment for the duration of your lease, without question—but sometimes, plans can change unexpectedly. If you need to move for a new job or lose your job and can no longer afford your place, you might be wondering how you can transition out of your current place without paying the consequences.
Whatever your reason for leaving your current rental ahead of time, Jerry, the super app that helps you find savings on car, and renters insurance wherever you live, is here to give you the rundown on what to expect if you need to break your lease early in Ohio.
When is breaking a lease legal in Ohio?
If you’re a renter with a fixed-term lease, you may face penalties for breaking that lease before the agreed-upon end date.
However, depending on the circumstances, state and federal laws may allow you to break your lease without penalty in Ohio. Those reasons 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 legally-required amount of prior notice
- The rental unit is unsafe, violates health and safety codes, and the landlord has not corrected the problem(s) despite tenant requests
In Ohio, there may be laws at the city level allowing early termination of a lease for specific reasons, such as if they are a victim of domestic violence.
Even if your reason for breaking your lease is legally protected, keep in mind that you might still be required to provide written notice to your landlord and/or provide certain evidence to make your case. Make sure you've made the proper preparations before vacating your unit—and seek legal counsel if you need it for your particular situation.
Before your Ohio landlord can charge you in full for the remaining time on your lease, they need to make a reasonable effort to find a new tenant to replace you. If your landlord is forced to charge less rent to find a new tenant, you could be responsible for paying the difference.
Need to brush up on your landlord-tenant laws? You can refer to Chapter 5231 of the Ohio Revised Code.
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What are the penalties for breaking a lease in Ohio?
You could face significant financial and legal consequences when breaking a lease in Ohio. For example, you could be responsible for paying the rent due over the remainder of the lease or penalty fees, and it's possible you could end up battling a lawsuit in small claims court.
The total costs that come with breaking a lease early in Ohio could be a sum of the following:
- Remaining rent while the rental is unoccupied
- Any losses or damages of the landlord, including advertising costs for finding a new tenant
- The difference in remaining rent if your landlord had to accept a lower amount to find a new tenant
- Other applicable fees
Depending on your lease agreement, there may be an early termination clause. This clause states the required notification timeframe, whether a penalty fee will apply, and if so, how much. It's common for landlords to charge penalty fees equal to one or two months' worth of rent. In some cases, you might be willing to hand over that cash and be done with it, but in others, it might be better to hold off and find another solution.
How to break a lease without a penalty in Ohio
Whether you’ll be able to break your lease in Ohio without a penalty depends on your reason for leaving the rental and the details of your lease agreement.
Here are a few ways you might be able to avoid paying the penalty for breaking your lease early:
- Re-read your lease agreement. To find out how to break a lease in Ohio without a penalty—if it’s possible in your situation—you’ll want to re-read the details of your lease agreement. It’s possible there’s an early termination clause that outlines the steps your landlord wants you to take with them, as well as any penalty fee that might apply.
- Notify your landlord sooner than later. Your lease agreement might note how much notice your landlord wants about your departure. The sooner you give them notice, the sooner they can begin looking for a new tenant, which could increase the odds that you'll be off the hook for the remaining rent.
- Find a replacement tenant yourself. You might be able to help speed up the process of finding a replacement tenant by joining the search and showing your landlord candidates for a sublet or lease transfer. To refuse a potential subtenant, Ohio law requires that a landlord must have a legitimate reason for doing so. If you’d rather forego the responsibilities that come with subletting, it’s possible you might be able to transfer your lease to a new tenant for the remainder of the term.
- Negotiate with your landlord.Some landlords are easier to work with than others. Still, depending on your circumstances, you might be able to reach a mutual agreement with your landlord that works for both of you. Whatever arrangement you come to, be sure to get it in writing.
Whatever your reason for leaving your rental, your best bet for avoiding costly penalties is to communicate clearly with your landlord early on—after having brushed up on both your rights and obligations as an Ohio tenant, of course.
How to save on renters insurance in Ohio
Figuring out how to get out of a lease without penalty in Ohio, when it’s possible, can be like trying to find your way out of an impossible labyrinth. Luckily, finding renters insurance for your next place can go a lot more smoothly.
With the Jerry app, you could find the right renters insurance policy in as little as 45 seconds—that’s how long it takes to enter your information and start comparing customized quotes from top insurance providers, all in one spot.
Once you find the right amount of coverage for you at the best price, Jerry’s experienced agents are ready to help you handle the paperwork that can come with switching to your new policy, and they can help you with canceling your old one, too.
Plus, Jerry can even help you bundle with your car insurance to find savings on both policies!
“Jerry let me customize my preferred auto and renters insurance so that I saved $100. I never even considered looking into Travelers but now they’re my policyholders! This app rocks.” —Jamie A.
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Can I break my lease due to COVID in Ohio?
While factors related to COVID-19 aren’t a legally protected reason to end your lease early in Ohio without penalty, it’s possible that you might still be able to come to an alternative agreement with your landlord, depending on your circumstances.
Does breaking a lease affect your credit?
Not necessarily. If you pay the necessary costs that may come with breaking your lease early before they become overdue, your credit score shouldn’t be affected.