A Guide to Breaking a Lease In Texas

Wondering if you can legally break your lease in Texas? In some situations, you might be able to—but you’ll need to know the rules regarding early termination.
Written by Patrick Price
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Breaking a lease in
is only legally protected if you’re starting active military service, you or your child are the victims of sexual assault or stalking, the rental unit is unsafe and unfit for habitation, or your landlord harasses you or violates your privacy rights. 
A lease or rental agreement is a legally binding contract. For the most part, once you sign it, you’re obligated to abide by its terms and pay all required charges until the end of the lease term. 
That said, we all know that life can be unpredictable, and situations change rapidly. Whether it's because you lost your job and can’t afford the rent, or you were offered an opportunity in another town and need to move, there may come a time when you find yourself needing to get out of a lease early. 
When that happens, you might start feeling a little trapped. Don’t panic—getting out of a lease in Texas might seem impossible, but you have options
To help you navigate the treacherous waters of early lease termination, your pal
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For the most part, the law does not protect your right to break a lease early. If you signed the agreement—except for certain special circumstances—you’ll be expected to carry out the initial term of the lease.  
First, let’s look at the situations where your right to early lease termination is protected. These circumstances allow you to end a lease early with or without the landlord’s approval and without penalties. 
There are only four such circumstances in Texas law, and they are as follows: 
  • The tenant is starting active military duty. Regardless of which branch of the service you join, when your number gets called, you can rest assured knowing that you’ll have the legal right to terminate your lease early.  
  • The tenant is the victim—or the parent of a victim—of sexual assault or stalking. In these circumstances, you are permitted to quit the premises as fast as you can to ensure your own (or your child’s) safety. 
  • The rental unit is unsafe, unfit for habitation, or otherwise violates Texas Health and Safety codes. Just as you’re expected to keep your end of a rental contract, so is the landlord—which means providing a livable property as defined by state law. If your landlord fails to do so, they will have broken the contract themselves, and you will be absolved from any further obligation. If the landlord fights you on the matter, you’ll need to sufficiently prove that the issue was serious enough to make the unit genuinely uninhabitable. 
  • Your landlord harasses you or violates your privacy rights. This is harder to prove in Texas since the law does not specify any amount of time that a landlord must give you a warning if they’re going to be entering the unit. If, however, you feel that you can prove that your privacy has been repeatedly violated—or if the landlord has done things like removing doors, changing locks, etc.—you may be able to use that as a grounds for breaking the lease early.  
Before you run off to enlist or start searching for reasons to declare your home uninhabitable, you should first carefully review your lease agreement. Most of the time, the landlord will have anticipated the possibility that you might want to leave early—after all, this is their job, and it’s not uncommon for tenants to require early termination. 
More often than not, there will be a clause in your lease agreement specifically outlining how to end the lease early if you want to. Usually, they’ll charge a fee, keep your security deposit as compensation for the inconvenience, or require you to find a replacement renter—they might even do all three. Every lease is different. 
If there is a section prescribing the proper process for premature leave termination, simply follow the steps described, and you should be fine! 
In the unlikely event that there are no terms listed for early termination, things will be a bit more complicated—you may end up having to finish the lease term or face legal penalties

What are the penalties for breaking a lease in Texas?

If none of the four exemption circumstances listed above apply, and if your break your lease anyway, you’ll likely be looking at penalty fees and a potential lawsuit at small claims court. Not to mention, you’ll still be on the hook for paying the rent that’s due, damage your credit score, and could even have difficulty renting a place in the future. 

How to break a lease without a penalty in Texas

If you’re determined to get out of your lease early, but you don’t fall into any of the exemption categories, there’re still a few things you can try. 
As mentioned above, almost all leases today will have a section describing exactly what you’ll need to do to break the lease early without violating your legal agreement. If your lease has a section like that, just follow the procedure as described (it will usually include how far in advance notice needs to be given, payment of any early termination fees, etc.).  
If your lease doesn’t have a section like that, then the first thing to do is discuss the matter with your landlord. For the most part, landlords simply want as little fuss as possible while still receiving their rent payments. 
If you give your landlord plenty of advanced warning about your intention to leave, and you find or help find a replacement subletter, then most landlords will be happy to let you go. 
Remember, the less extra work and effort your plan to move out requires from your landlord, the less likely they’ll be to object. And the same goes for how much notice you give them—the sooner the better. 
At the end of the day, it’s never illegal to break a lease if both parties involved (you and your landlord) can agree on mutually acceptable terms. Don’t be afraid to negotiate and make counter offers. When you do, be sure to always communicate via email or text message so that you have a written record of the conversation—just in case. 

How to save on renters insurance in Texas

Once you’ve managed to wriggle your way free from your old lease in
, it’ll be time to settle into your new place—which means it will be time, once again, to go shopping for
renters insurance
homeowners insurance
as the case may be). 
Unlike early lease termination, finding the best possible insurance coverage for the lowest possible rates is fast and easy—just so long as you have
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While COVID-19 is still ongoing and impacting public health and finances, it alone is not a legal cause for breaking your lease in Texas. However, if you have a disability, family emergency, or other circumstance affecting your ability to rent your apartment, speak with your landlord.
It depends. If you pay the associated costs your landlord charges, including termination fees and any ongoing rent, your credit score shouldn’t see a drop. However, if you refuse to pay or are late with your payments, it could impact your credit.
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