A lease is a binding contract between a tenant and the landlord. Breaking the lease constitutes a breach of contract. Depending on the reason, there might be legal and financial repercussions.
If you are a tenant in Nevada contemplating breaking a lease, here’s everything you need to know.
Having a tenant break a Nevada rental lease is something every landlord dreads. Tenants may choose to break a lease for several reasons. For example, moving to another city or moving in with a girlfriend or boyfriend. Whichever the reason, the law is clear on tenant-landlord agreements.
Reasons for breaking a lease may either be legally justified or unjustified. When justified, you may be able to end the lease without fear of penalty.
When Breaking the Lease Is Legally Justified under Nevada Lease Laws
In the state of Nevada, the following are reasons when you can legally break a lease without facing any consequences:
· When you’re starting active military duty
Active duty military members are protected by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The law offers these members protection when they receive a change of station orders.
Specifically, the law covers members of the “uniformed services”. These include the activated National Guard, commissioned corps of the Public Health Service, armed forces, and commissioned corps of the Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Under the act, you’re required to give your landlord a written notice of your intentions to end the lease. This notice must usually be at least 30 days in advance of the desired date of termination.
You may also need to include proof of military deployment or change of station orders in the notice.
· When the landlord makes an illegal entry
It’s illegal for the landlord to enter the tenant’s rental unit without prior notice. In Nevada, landlords must provide tenants with at least a twenty-four-hour notice of their intentions to enter a unit.
Additionally, the landlord can only enter your rental property for legal reasons. Such reasons may include showing the unit to prospective tenants or inspecting the unit.
Under Nevada tenant laws, breaking of a lease is allowed if the landlord makes attempts to access your rental unit for reasons not legally allowed, harasses you, or makes continued attempts to enter your rental unit without proper notice.
· You are a victim of domestic violence
You have the right to break a lease agreement if you’ve been a victim of domestic violence. Under Nevada landlord-tenant law, the act of violence must’ve occurred recently, usually within the last 6 months.
State law (Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § § 118A.345, 118A.347, 118A.510) outlines the specific conditions that must be met. For one, you will need to present a valid protection order.
· The rental unit violates Nevada Health or Safety Codes
By law, landlords must maintain fit and habitable premises. Otherwise, a court would probably conclude that you’ve been “constructively evicted.” In Nevada, common landlord obligations include:
- Performing repairs
- Keeping common areas clean and in good repair
- Making sure the property has running water at all times
- Following health and safety codes
- Providing proper trash receptacles
Typically, you will need to provide the landlord with a written notice of your intentions to end the lease agreement.
Nevada law (Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § § 118A.360, 118A.380, and 118A.490) sets specific requirements for the procedures you must follow before moving out.
· You have physical or mental disability
Tenants (60 years of age and above) may break a rental agreement if they need specialized care or treatment. Nevada state law (Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 118A.340) specifies the conditions to be met.
· Illegal rental unit
In Nevada, you may also break the lease agreement if it turns out that your rental unit isn’t legal. You may even be entitled to a portion of the rent you’ve paid. The landlord may also be compelled to assist you to get a new rental unit.
When Breaking a Lease Isn’t Legally Justified Under Nevada Lease Laws
You may face heavy financial and legal repercussions if your reason to break a lease isn’t legally justified. Often, tenants ignorantly break a lease agreement thinking they have a valid reason to do so when they actually don’t.
The following are common reasons that tenants shouldn’t use to break their lease:
- Criminal activity in and around the area
- Loss of employment
- Loss of roommate or co-tenant
- Voluntary or involuntary job transfer
- Leaving or withdrawing from school voluntary or involuntary
Fortunately, there’s hope to avoid massive penalties even in these situations. This is because, under Nevada rental laws (Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 118.175), the landlord is required to make reasonable efforts to re-rent the unit.
This means you may still be off the hook for paying all the rent due for the remaining lease term. You may only need to pay the lost amount the landlord incurred as a result of you moving out early.
When re-renting the unit, the landlord doesn’t need to relax standards for acceptable tenants. For instance, the landlord doesn’t have to accept a prospective tenant with a poor credit history. The prospective tenant must be qualified, that is, pass the entire tenant screening process.
Because of this, the landlord may incur some additional costs. Such costs include those for advertising and tenant screening. These are legitimate expenses that the landlord may add to your bill.
How to Minimize Your Financial Liability When You Break a Lease
There’s a lot you can do to limit the amount of money you need to pay the landlord if you want to move out early. Here are some tips:
· Find a termination clause
Some Nevada rental lease contracts have termination clauses. A termination clause describes what happens in the event a landlord-tenant contract is ended early. You may be able to go scot-free depending on your reason for vacating. You would, however, need to provide relevant notice of your intention.
Some termination clauses may allow you to move out for reasons such as:
- Work transfer
- Lost a job
- Have a medical issue
It’s important to note that early termination clauses differ with the landlord. But while they may differ, the end result is the same. If you comply, you can be released from the balance of your obligations under the rental agreement.
· Find someone to sublet
Ideally, you can offer your landlord a qualified replacement tenant. The prospective tenant must have good credit and excellent references. However, you should review the terms of the subletting clause carefully to see if you’ll still continue having any responsibilities.
· Try negotiating with your landlord
It may still be possible to simply talk your way out of your rental lease even if the odds are slim. If the property is in such high demand that there’s a waitlist, you may be in luck with a bit of finely-tuned negotiating skills and bit of politeness.
· Provide as much notice as possible
You can help the situation by simply writing a letter to your landlord well in advance. This will give your landlord enough time to plan ahead.
Tenants and landlords have mutual responsibilities under the contracted agreements of a lease. If you have to break the lease, make sure you understand your rights and responsibilities first. If you’re not sure of Nevada’s tenant rights and responsibilities under the lease, seek advice from an experienced and landlord-tenant attorney.