Rental Basics in 92131>Question Details

Robert, Home Buyer in San Diego, CA

In California can I break a rental lease to purchase a home?

Asked by Robert, San Diego, CA Mon Feb 13, 2012

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Abosolutly!!! yes..(get a lawyer) thats no joke!!! you dont have wait for nothing,,,you can move the next day!!!.and the judge will make sure nothing outrageous goes on between you and your landlord,,,,(whom by the way is trying to threatean and hold your feet to a fictious fire)as if you owe him or her or the company-).....all that you own....

and make damm sure you get something in writing from your landlord if you both make a verbal agreement....
in case he is mad and (will try to pull a fast one) and they always do....

and dont be duxxe bag.....
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 13, 2012
Unless your lease permits it, then--to answer the question I think you're trying to ask--no, there's no special exemption or escape clause that lets you break a lease in order to buy a home.

As the other answers note, there are ways--some with penalty, some probably without--that you can terminate the lease. So you may well be able to achieve what you're trying to do. But simply pointing to some law that says, "If a tenant has a lease, that lease is excused if the tenant enters into a purchase contract to buy a property"--no, that doesn't exist.

Hope that helps.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 13, 2012
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Burke, VA
Ask yourself, if you were the landlord, what would you let your tenant do. Be honest with the landlord.

Maybe they can re-rent it sooner and get more rent. If they can't, you will be responsible and the landlord can go after you for damages.

The lease is a valid contract between two parties. What is written and the intent of the contract is important.

Good luck!

Web Reference:
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 13, 2012
I would refer to your lease and talk to your Landlord. They may be willing to let you out of your lease. Good luck!
Web Reference:
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 13, 2012
The first question would be why would you want to? If you agreed on a great option price then it would not be a wise choice. Maybe you could renegotiate the terms of your agreement to be a win- win for both. If you would like to look into purchasing that home maybe we can find a loan to satisfy the purchase of this. You can reach me at 951-445-9636 to answer some questions for you and point you in the right direction.

Sherry Stokes
DRE #01929869
Real Estate e broker
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 28, 2013
Trying talking to your landlord, they may understand and may have an interested party that allows you out of your lease. If it's very early in your lease, check with subletting, this may be an option.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 21, 2012
Usually, leases are structured so that the tenant will complete the full term of the lease. Very often, your lease will allow for lease termination with a fee, to allow the landlord to cover the unexpected vacancy.

Otherwise, you can check with a local tenant advocacy group to see what options they may suggest. But, keep in mind, even if they help you walk away without a penalty, you may have to carry on the fight on your credit report. That may be a big hassle when you're trying to get approval on a loan to buy a home.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 17, 2012
Unless it is previously stated in your lease you can't. Some landlords will help you out though if you explain the situation and offer to help find a new tenant. You will be responsible for rent up until then. Sometimes they will want you to pay a small fee to break the lease as well, which should have been stated before hand. Just be honest with your landlord and hopefully they understand!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 17, 2012
How about seeing if the landlord will let you out of the lease if you help find a new tenant? You can advertise on Craigslist for free.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 13, 2012
Hi Robert,
Can and should are two different things entirely! You can always break a lease, but the penalty depends on how your lease is worded. As others here have stated the should will involve analyzing how long it will take you to find a house, escrow, etc, how long your lease is and what market you are looking in. If you need help, I also do property management and would love to assist you. We lived for several years in Scripps Ranch and know it well.

Thank you!
Sinead McAllister
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 13, 2012
Good morning
. I moved to San Diego to work. we were under pressure of two rents ans We accepted a lease that was not thoroughly explained to us. It seemed the manager had complete authority and even rented a separate garage for less. After five months we found out we are responsible for trash sewer and other fees. We have not been aware of this until now 5 months later. We can not afford this payments and need help. If there is anything you can advice Please
Flag Fri Feb 28, 2014
Hi Robert,

It may sound easy to find a replacement, but even if you do, your landlord doesn't have to allow the replacement, especially if no background check was done using the standards of the landlord. But, landlords are people, and may help you out of your lease if there is a qualified tenant. It may not be so easy if your contact is a management company. I've known some who don't care about the tenant and would rather avoid the extra work in getting a new tenant.

When is your lease up? If you have a few months left, don't rush into leaving. It could take many months to find a home you like that fits your budget and loan program. Then, at the end of your lease, try to get a month to month tenancy. Then you only have to worry about part of a month after you close. And these overlaps are helpful if your new home needs painting, new flooring or other work before you move in.

Try talking with your landlord now about your future plans. You may be accommodated with enough of a heads up, but you may find that you don't need it.

Please let me know if I can help in any way.

Warm Regards,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 13, 2012
Hi. I do a lot of property management and have helped many clients out of their leases in order to buy.

Is your lease a standard California Assoc of Realtors lease? It would have a CAR logo on top.

Is there any language written in that talks specifically about breaking your lease?

If not, California law says both parties HAVE to mitigate damages. That means you can advertise and find a replacement tenant and the landlord must work with you to let you out The tenants you find MUST qualify in every way you qualified.
Keep in mind, you probably haven't found a house yet, and that takes time. Plus an escrow takes time. If the house you are hoping to buy is a short sale, it could take a few months to close escrow. I had one short sale that took 11 months!
So, I suggest you start looking, and when you are about to open escrow, start advertising to find another tenant. You can also hire an agent to help you. If I was representing you as your agent in the purchase, I would advertise and show your rental and not charge you. So maybe you can make a deal with whoever you choose as your agent.
What area are you in?

I have a few other tricks for getting replacement tenants too if you need help.
Good luck.
Sher Slavin
Masterpiece Realty
Del Mar ca
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 13, 2012
we were told twice that our apartment was rented out, the first one was denied by background and this time we were told the day the new renter was scheduled to move in that he backed out last night. and we are being told we are still on the hook for this month since he never took full possesion yet they kept his deposit.... how is this ok?
Flag Wed Nov 4, 2015

Without penalty? I doubt it, that is, unless the actual lease allows this.

Talk to your Landlord about what you are planning to see if you can come to an agreement that meets both of your needs. Quite frankly, you really don’t know how long it will take to find your home and even when you do you may not be able to close escrow on the first property you go into contract on.

Before you do so, review your "legal options" via Another god Landlord-Tenant link-

0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 13, 2012
I have a broker friend in San Diego that also has a property management company. He has ways to make everyone happy and get you out of a lease if your going to buy.
He is the broker and regional realty
email: and tell him Jillian sent you :)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 13, 2012

You may also want to consult an attorney as a lease agreement is a contract and you are bound by its' contents. Read it carefully. Depending upon the expiration date, you may want to wait to purchase.

Kind Regards,

Marcie Sands
Simply The Best Real Estate Co., Inc.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 13, 2012
Robert, your asked:
"In California can I break a rental lease to purchase a home?"

In most cases, the answer is yes. Please look at your rental agreeement.

Most will let you break the lease but you will be responsible for any missed rent. You and your landlord should both be looking for you replacement tenant. One thing the owner can not do is to raise the rent in such a way as to make it difficult to rent.

Some larger apartment complexes have set fees for breaking leases and they can be stiff.

Congratulations on making the move to become a homeowner.
This is a great time to do this...interest rates are low, as are prices.

Dennis Smith, ABR, SRES, e-PRO, Realtor® CA DRE#00476662
CDPE - Certified Distressed Property Specialist
RE/MAX By-The-Sea
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 13, 2012
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