Evictions, Constructive Evictions, and Lease Breaks: Navigating the Complex World of Residential Lease Agreements

by LegalFix
Posted: March 19, 2024

Renting a home or apartment often begins with excitement and optimism. But life is unpredictable, and sometimes, challenges arise between landlords and tenants. Whether it's a sudden job transfer or issues like a lack of essential services, Understanding your rights and obligations as a tenant can make all the difference, especially when it comes to eviction, constructive eviction, or lease break. 


Evictions are legal processes where a landlord seeks to reclaim possession of a property due to a tenant's breach of the lease agreement, commonly for non-payment of rent. However, evictions must follow specific legal procedures, including providing appropriate notice to the tenant.

Constructive Evictions

The principle of constructive eviction is straightforward. Constructive eviction occurs when a landlord, rather than going through the formal eviction process, makes the property uninhabitable for the tenant. This can be in either a commercial or residential property, often through direct actions, like shutting off essential utilities, or neglect, like failing to repair significant damages. 

While some landlords may think this is a simple way to make a tenant leave, such actions can have severe consequences for landlords, both civil and criminal. For instance, deliberately shutting off power, heat, or water can be considered harassment or even a criminal act in many states. Landlords could face fines or lawsuits for damages. 

Breaking the Lease Without Penalties

Several circumstances can allow a tenant to break their lease without facing penalties:

  • Special Provisions for Military Personnel: The “military clause” allows members of the military to break a lease if they receive orders for a permanent change of station or are deployed for an extended period. 

  • Job Transfers: Some leases or state laws may allow tenants to break a lease without penalty if they are transferred to a job in a different city or state. 

  • Constructive Eviction: If a landlord fails to provide essential services or makes the property uninhabitable, a tenant might legally break the lease. 

Security and Pet Deposits

Upon ending a lease, landlords typically have a set period (determined by state law) to return a tenant's security deposit. Deductions can be made for unpaid rent or damages beyond ordinary wear and tear. Clear communication and a walkthrough inspection can prevent disputes over such deductions. Similarly, pet deposits should also be returned, minus any deductions for damages caused by the pet. 

Landlord and Tenant Obligations

While tenants have an obligation to pay rent and uphold lease terms, landlords are bound by law to ensure the property is safe and habitable. This includes addressing maintenance issues promptly and ensuring utilities are operational. 

Know Your Rights with LegalFix

Navigating the intricacies of residential lease agreements can be daunting. Whether facing an eviction, considering breaking a lease, or dealing with deposit disputes, understanding your rights is crucial. Fortunately, you don't have to go it alone. Having affordable access to an attorney who is familiar with your state's landlord-tenant laws can provide invaluable guidance, ensuring your rights are protected and helping you make informed decisions. 

Whether you want to know about residential lease agreements or just want a better understanding of how our legal system works, LegalFix is your go-to source for free legal information. You can find helpful articles and state-specific explanations of nearly 1,600 legal topics and browse the state and federal statutes to better understand the laws that affect you. Just visit to find all this content—and check back often for more valuable legal products and services coming soon.