A rental agreement is a legally enforceable contract between a landlord and tenant. The agreement outlines the terms of use for the rental property. A rental agreement can vary from month-to-month or a year and beyond. A renter may want to leave the apartment prior to the lease ending; this is called "breaking a lease." Alabama has rules regarding if and when a lease can be broken and who has legal responsibility. 

What are My Legal Justifications for Breaking a Lease?

In Alabama, a tenant who terminates a lease early may owe the rent for the entire lease term. However, the state has some exceptions regarding when a tenant can legally more out early: 

  • The landlord violates the tenant’s privacy
  • The landlord harasses the tenant
  • The tenant starts active military duty 

Is a Tenant Always Responsible for Paying All of the Rent Due for the Remaining Lease Term?

No. According to Alabama law, a landlord must make every reasonable effort to find a new tenant for the rental until. This is called mitigating damages. It doesn’t matter why the first tenant broke the lease. This means the tenant who breaks the lease is only responsible for the month or months the apartment was vacant. 

Does Alabama Law Allow Me To “Mitigate” My Own Damages?

Yes. A tenant who breaks a rental agreement can offer the landlord a replacement tenant with good references and credit. 

If My Lease Ends and I Don’t Want to Leave My Apartment, Can My Landlord Force Me to Leave?

No. In Alabama, a landlord doesn’t have the right to make a renter leave after the lease expires. But the landlord can evict if the tenant doesn’t pay rent or violates another term in the agreement. 

Should I Contact a Lawyer First Before Breaking a Lease?

Yes. Consult an Alabama landlord tenant lawyer prior to talking to your landlord about terminating your lease early. The lawyer will advise you of the best ways to avoid financial problems.