Ending a lease early depends on the cancellation clause in your agreement. If there is no such clause, the only way you can end your lease early without being in breach of contract is if your landlord agrees to it or if your landlord is in material breach of the lease (for example, by failing to maintain the outside of the property, as agreed in the contract, and this makes it impossible for you to remain on the property, but you will have to prove this).
Are there penalties involved?
You can end the lease early in terms of the Consumer Protection Act, 68 0f 2008. Section 14 allows for the tenant to prematurely cancel a fixed lease (by giving 20 business days’ notice). However, it should be noted that the landlord may impose a reasonable cancellation penalty. It should also be noted that this penalty amount should not be to punish the tenant but reflect reasonable costs in securing a replacement tenant.
When may a lease agreement be terminated or cancelled?
A lease agreement terminates on its expiration date or when it is cancelled by notice in the event of breach, death or insolvency. If the landlord or tenant fails to meet his/her obligations in terms of the lease agreement, it would be considered a breach and the other person may rely on the following remedies:
- Notify the person in writing, to fix his/her breach within a certain period of time.
- Failure to fix his/her breach within the time provided – keep the lease agreement in place, and sue for specific performance and/or claim for damages.
- Failure to fix his/her breach within the time provided – cancel the lease agreement, and sue for damages and/or eviction of the tenant where s/he is still staying on the property.