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  • Writer's pictureCarin Wolkenberg

Can I break my lease or get rent relief due to Covid-19?

People ask whether they can break their lease of get rent relief due to Covid-19. The ability to break your lease or get rent relief will depend on the language of the lease, local laws and your ability to negotiate with the landlord. First, the bad news: the law generally states that the tenant is responsible for paying rent for the entire lease. A landlord can seek a judgment against its tenant for the entire lease amount. This can be very expensive for the Tenant.

There are 4 things that can be done to negotiate a lease termination. Some leases have a termination clause which allows the Tenant to terminate the lease by paying a few months rent, typically 2-3 months. Some leases have an "act-of-God" clause which permits tenants to terminate the lease due to an Act-of-God. At this time, landlords have resisted the contention that a pandemic is an Act-of-God. A Tenant can find another party to assume the lease. In general, rent law allows a Tenant to get another tenant to assume the lease. Finally, If a Tenant wants to continue the lease and cannot pay due to financial hardship as a result of Covid-19, the Tenant can contact the Landlord and negotiate a lesser rent or an abatement of rent for a period of time.

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