Breaking Your Lease

We get a lot of questions from tenants about breaking their leases for various reasons. In Maryland, there are very few reasons why a tenant can break their lease without penalty, since a lease is a binding legal contract between both parties, and cannot be easily changed without the consent of the other party.

Some leases have a provision that provides a way for tenants to cancel the lease. Commonly, it might require 60-days notice before the desired move-out date, and a requirement that the tenant pays two months rent as a penalty for ending the lease early. However, if your lease does not contain a “lease-break” clause, Maryland landlord-tenant law only provides an “out” under very specific circumstances:

You are in the military and have received a change of duty station.

You are a victim of domestic violence.

You have suffered a medical issue that precludes you from living in the residence, and your physician is willing to provide documentation and certification.

If the property becomes uninhabitable due to a loss of essential services or other serious defect, you could file for rent escrow and ask the judge to void the lease. (Please note, rent escrow needs to be filed in court. If you simply withhold your rent without having gone to court, you could be evicted for nonpayment of rent.)

If you need additional assistance, particularly with filing for rent escrow, you can contact the District Court Self-Help Center at 410-260-1392. Attorneys are available Monday-Friday from 8:30 AM to 8:00 PM and they can give brief advice about your particular circumstances.