Getting your car broken into (or even worse, stolen) can make you feel traumatized and unsafe. And if it happens more than once in your neighborhood, it can definitely make you want to move to an area with less crime.
So it’s only natural that you would want to explore whether you can break your lease if this has happened to you.
In this article, I am going to discuss whether you can terminate your lease after a car break in and provide you with a clear and logical way to navigate this question and explore your options.
I’ll also provide some helpful tips on how you can break you lease early, even if all of the facts don’t play out in your favor.
But if you want a quick answer to the question, here’s a summary:
In most cases, a car break-in will not give you a right to terminate your lease, but there may be exceptions. For example, if the break-in is part of you being targeted and stalked, some states allow tenants to get out of their lease. You may also try to negotiate an exit with your landlord if they failed to maintain promised security features and this caused the break-in.
Let’s get into it!
The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified legal professional before making any decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.
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Step 1: What Does Your Lease Say?
Your lease agreement is the first place you should look when trying to figure out whether you can terminate early in the event of a break in.
If the break-in was due to your landlord violating your lease, then you would have a claim for breach of the lease agreement, which should allow you to exit the contract early.
Check lease provisions relating to safety and maintenance. Do they promise to a security guard and manned gate, security cameras in parking areas, and the like? Did they fail to do so?
If yes, make sure you document their breach of the lease and gather proof. Then reach out to your landlord in writing and tell them in writing that you would like to move out because there was a breach of the contract and you suffered a break in as a result.
They may not agree and argue the point the with you, but it is worth a shot to try to get them to let you out, particularly if there is some wrongdoing on their end.
No landlord wants to be taken to court and sued. It may be easier to just let you out of the lease.
But what if your lease does not promise any security features or the break in was not the landlord’s fault?
Well, your case just got a lot harder. But you still may have some options. Let’s turn to state laws that may come into play.
Related Note: It is a good practice to read your entire lease – there may be early termination provisions or other language that may not be related to the break-in that you can still use to get out of the lease.
Step 2: Check Your State and Local Landlord Tenant Laws
As a general matter, most state laws won’t give you an out simply because your car was broken into.
But if this happened as part of a series of other crimes against you, you may have some rights.
For example, if you are also being specifically targeted by someone and it rises to the level of stalking, you may be able to get out of your lease early.
You will usually need to provide your landlord proof of the stalking (usually in the form of some sort of restraining order against the stalker) and give them adequate notice.
If you want to explore this option further, you will need to look into your state’s landlord tenant laws.
You can contact a lawyer to help you or if you prefer to do it by yourself, I have collected the landlord tenant laws for each state (and the District of Columbia), which you can access here.
If you prefer to have a lawyer assist you, I would try JustAnswer. They boast access to thousands of highly-rated, verified real estate lawyers whom you can connect with via their unlimited chat service.
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Step 3: Find a Replacement Tenant
If all of the above don’t work, you still have options.
You can simply open up a dialogue with your landlord and offer to find them another tenant to take over your lease or start a new one.
If you promise to do all of the hard stuff associated with finding a new tenant, like marketing the vacancy, showing the property to prospects and taking care of the initial paperwork (like providing applications and collecting info and documents), you will make this option a lot more appealing to your landlord.
Related Reading: If you want to learn more about how to break your lease early by finding a new tenant, check out my full article on the topic here.
So there you have it – a simple three step answer to the question of whether you can break your lease if someone breaks into your car, with some helpful tips along the way.
Now if you want to get out of your lease, but you don’t meet some of the exceptions we discussed above like a breach of the contract by the landlord, or being a victim of stalking, etc., there are other ways to terminate your lease early.
Check out my full article on how to break your lease early without penalty for more details. It includes 11 situations where you can terminate early (plus one bonus option that applies in all situations).