Legal Reasons to Break a Lease in Colorado
Renters know that—like signing any other legal document—signing a lease binds them to that agreement. Whether it’s a 6-month, year-long, or month-to-month lease, you’re responsible for the property and the rent. Breaking a lease isn’t the first thing a renter may consider when the unexpected happens. When it comes to that point, you might be wondering, can you break a lease in Colorado?
The short answer is: sometimes. Colorado has certain exceptions when it comes to legally breaking a lease. At Henderson, we are a resource for both landlords and tenants. Let’s dive in and discuss the legal reasons to break a lease in Colorado.
Active Military Duty
The first of the legal reasons to break your lease in Colorado is if you’re in the military. Colorado hosts six main military bases, so we’re no strangers to the changes of military life. You might be just entering military service, moving to a different base, or a whole new country. Whatever the reason, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) protects you from legal action for breaking a lease.
This law extends beyond Colorado. It’s federal law that you may break your lease without repercussion if you’re moving for military service. Once you’re notified about your transfer, you must inform your landlord via written notice. After your landlord has your notice, your tenancy will terminate 30 days after the next rent is due. No matter the state, if you’re a member of the military and duty requires you to move, you can legally break your lease.
A lease should never be a reason to stay in a dangerous situation. If your partner is causing you physical harm and you might wonder: Can you break a lease in Colorado? The short answer is yes.
Another one of the legal reasons to break a lease in Colorado is being a victim of domestic violence. Like breaking a lease, people don’t expect to become victims of domestic violence. If you’re a victim of domestic violence, breaking a lease in Colorado is legal. There is a process, however, for these circumstances. Victims of domestic violence are legally protected to move before the lease is over as long as the victim does two things. First, you must report the domestic violence to the police. Then, you must provide a copy of the police report to your landlord with your termination notice. Once both steps are complete, you have a legal reason to break a lease in Colorado. This measure will vary from state to state, so do your research and do it safely.
Unsafe Living Conditions
A lease agreement requires both parties to follow it. Just like a landlord can evict you for not following the terms of the lease agreement, you can break the lease for the same. Unsafe living conditions are the third of the legal reasons to break a lease in Colorado.
If there’s a breach in local or state health codes, the tenant has a right to break the lease. An unsafe living condition can be defined as “uninhabitable or otherwise unfit for human habitation or in a condition that materially interferes with the tenant’s life, health, or safety.” Because this definition is so broad, there are a few steps to take before you can legally break the lease. First, you must communicate the condition of the property to the landlord, either through written or electronic notice. If the landlord fails to make reasonable efforts within 24 hours, you can take steps to legally leave before the end of the lease. If they make reasonable efforts within 24 hours—but the premises are still uninhabitable by 96 hours—the same applies.
An unsafe living environment is a “constructive eviction.” Defining a property as uninhabitable can be difficult since there are so many different scenarios. If tenants feel that conditions are unsafe/unlivable, they should look into the proper procedure to legally leave before the lease is up.
The Landlord Violates the Contract
Much like unsafe or uninhabitable living conditions, the landlord must keep up their end of the lease agreement. Once you’ve signed a lease, both parties are responsible for upholding the agreement. It’s uncommon to allow any party to change the lease agreement, especially without notifying the other person/people involved. One of the legal reasons for breaking a lease in Colorado is if the landlord breaks the lease agreement in a major way. This applies to the landlord raising rent before the end of the lease, or making other major changes. Every situation is different, so make sure to seek legal action before breaking the lease.
The Landlord Violates Your Privacy
By signing a lease agreement, you’re entitled to the safety and privacy of the place you’re occupying. Just because you don’t own the property doesn’t mean you don’t have a right to privacy. The last of our legal reasons to break a lease in Colorado is a landlord violating your privacy.
“Constructive eviction” also applies to your landlord repeatedly violating your privacy. This includes changing locks, removing doors, and repeatedly entering the home without notice. If you feel uncomfortable in your rental property because of the landlord’s behavior, it could be worth seeking legal action.
If None of These Apply, Can You Break a Lease in Colorado?
If none of the legal reasons to break a lease in Colorado fit your situation, you can still break your lease. Breaking a lease illegally, however, has consequences. Luckily, we’ve already broken down the consequences of breaking a lease.
If you’re still unsure about whether you can legally break your lease, contact us! Henderson has tons of experts who’d be more than happy to talk you through your options.