Everyone who is a tenant has a lease

Some renters have written leases.  Others have oral leases.  If you ever paid money to live in your home, you are a tenant and have a lease. A lease is a contract.  It can be enforced in court.  The lease is binding on both you and your landlord.  It is important to end your lease correctly.  Because a lease is a legal contract, mistakes made could result in a trip to court.  Whether you are breaking your lease or moving out at the end of your lease, there are steps you should take to protect yourself.


Moving Out at the End of Your Lease

If you are moving out at the end of your lease, you must give your landlord proper notice.

The notice should be given in writing.  Keep a copy of your letter.  How much notice you need to give depends on what your lease says. If it is silent on this point state law applies. Under state law if you have an oral agreement, a written month-to-month or year to year lease, you need to give your landlord 15 days’ notice.  If you have a written lease that is longer than one year and nothing is specified, 30 days’ notice is required.

Some one-year leases become month-to-month leases at the end of the year.  But many leases automatically renew themselves for another year.  It is common for such a lease to require 60 or 90 days notice.  If you have such a lease and do not notify your landlord at least 60 or 90 days before the end of your lease, it may automatically renew itself for another year.


Moving Out Before the End of Your Lease

Leaving before the end of your lease can be dangerous.  For example, if you have a one-year lease and you move out two months early, a judge might agree that you owe two months’ rent. But if your landlord violates the terms of the lease, you have the right to move without paying more rent.

According to a case decided by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court (Pugh v. Holmes) all residential leases, written or oral, have an implied Warranty of Habitability. That is, even if there is nothing in writing, a landlord must maintain a tenant’s home in good repair.