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How to terminate a lease for an apartment

Are you about to move out of your rented apartment and need to terminate your lease as soon as possible? Or do you want to kick a problem tenant out of your apartment? You need to be careful, as disputes often accompany the termination of a lease.

Krabice v bytě po ukončení nájmu bytu
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There is not always an agreement between the parties to terminate the lease peacefully. Then it is necessary to proceed with a unilateral termination. However, the law provides fairly clear rules for such situations.

What are the requirements of a lease termination?

First of all, the notice must be in writing; the lease cannot be terminated over the phone or verbally. We recommend sending it by registered letter to make sure it has been delivered. The notice must contain information about both parties and the name of the flat or house.

The need to give reasons for the notice and instructions to the tenant depends mainly on whether the tenancy is being terminated:

  • any of the reasons specified by law or by the parties,
  • or whether it can be terminated without cause.

If the former, the reason for the termination must be clearly stated. The conditions under which a tenancy can be terminated, whether by the landlord or the tenant, depend in particular on whether the contract is for a fixed or indefinite term.

Tip: Is your lease with your tenant coming to an end? How long after the end of the lease does the tenant have to vacate the apartment? When can you enter the apartment yourself and what can be done if the tenant refuses to vacate? We have addressed this in our separate article.

Termination of a fixed-term lease agreement

Atenancy agreement concluded for a specific period of time naturally ends at its expiry. However, it can be terminated earlier than the agreed lease term if such an option is directly provided for in the contract. However, this must be agreed for both parties, not just the landlord. If the parties do not expressly agree on this, a fixed-term lease cannot be terminated without giving a specific legal reason, purely at the arbitrary discretion of one of the parties.

Tip: The best solution is clearly a lease termination agreement.

What have we encountered in practice?

Our client, Pavel, a surveyor, concluded a lease agreement for 5 years without the possibility of early termination. However, after 2 years he got a job in another city and moved from Brno to Prague, where he could not commute regularly. However, the landlord did not want to “let him go” and insisted on paying almost 3 years of rent.

“The law takes such a situation into account. The tenant may terminate the fixed-term contract on three months’ notice if the circumstances on which the parties based the contract change. In this case, the tenant cannot be required to continue the lease. A similar case is a change in health conditions.”

Mgr. Marek Svobodný, specialist in real estate law

Have you found yourself in a difficult situation with the termination of your apartment lease?

Whether you are currently dealing with a landlord’s disagreement with your notice or you find yourself in a situation where your tenancy has been unfairly terminated, we can advise you. Within 48 hours, we can propose a specific solution for your case.

What rights does the landlord have when giving notice for a fixed term?

The landlord can only terminate a fixed-term contract for the reasons provided by law, i.e.:

  • if the tenant grossly breaches his/her obligation under the lease (for example, stops paying rent),
  • if the tenant is convicted of a deliberate crime committed against the landlord or a member of the tenant’s household, or against a person who lives in the house where the tenant’s flat is located, or against someone else’s property located in the house,
  • if the flat is to be vacated for reasons of public interest (for example, it must be demolished to make way for a city ring road),
  • if there is another similarly compelling reason for terminating the tenancy.

The law protects the tenant as the weaker party to the contract on these precise grounds.

The lawyer advises: Beware also of too long a “specified” period. If you agree a lease for more than 50 years, it is deemed to have been agreed for an indefinite term, with the proviso that in the first 50 years the lease can only be terminated as if it had been agreed for a fixed term.

However, it is more advantageous for the landlord to choose a fixed-term contract for a short period of time. This is the most effective way for the landlord to protect itself from an irresponsible tenant and not have to prove breach of duty. It also opens up room for possible rent increases when the contract is extended.

Tip: Find out what to look out for when renting an apartment from a tenant’s perspective.

Termination of the lease agreement for an indefinite period

The tenant may give notice of termination of a lease for an indefinite period at any time, even without giving reasons. A three-month notice period must be observed unless otherwise agreed with the landlord in the contract.

Tip: In this case, you don’t have to give any reasons for your resignation. However, nothing prevents you from doing so.

When can the landlord terminate your permanent contract?

If the landlord wants to terminate the permanent contract, he can only do so for legal reasons. Specifically, for the same reasons as in the case of a fixed-term contract (we have mentioned them above), and in addition if he wants to move into the flat himself or wants it for his spouse on divorce. This also applies if he needs it for his relatives, e.g. children who have started university. However, the relatives should actually move into the flat. A fake “need” may lead to a claim for damages and generally call into question the validity of such a statement.

In addition, there is an obligation for the landlord to re-let the flat to the tenant or to compensate the tenant for damages if the landlord cited his or her or a family member’s housing need as the reason for the termination.

How do I defend myself against an unjustified termination of my lease?

The law views the tenant as the weaker party. However, in order to be able to defend himself, he must be familiar with the notice and its contents.

“For example, Ms Karla, the security guard, avoided deliveries from the landlord. When she found out that she had received a notice of termination of her lease, it was a quarter of a year after the landlord had sent her. There was nothing that could be done about the notice, even though the reason was completely irrelevant and she would certainly have won the lawsuit otherwise. Failure to receive documents served by the landlord is usually a mistake and not an advantage to the tenant. This is because such a notice is deemed by law to be served when it is delivered into the addressee’s sphere. Therefore, it should be in writing, sent to all persons to whom it relates (for example, if there are spouses in the tenancy, then to both), sent to the address where they actually reside and, for proof of posting, it is advisable to send it by registered post.

After the notice is served, the tenant has 2 months to object to the notice and to file a lawsuit in court. This is one of the biggest changes in tenancy law. It puts the responsibility on the tenant and makes it easier for landlords. Previously, landlords had to apply to the court for what was known as a ‘notice to quit’. Now they just wait to see if the tenant defends himself in time. If they don’t, even an invalid notice becomes enforceable and the tenant can do nothing against it.

Attention! However, the landlord should inform the tenant of the right to object to the notice and at the same time suggest the possibility of a court review of the validity of the notice. If the tenant fails to do so, the notice is invalid.

The apartment is deemed to have been handed over when the landlord receives the keys and is otherwise not prevented from accessing and using the apartment. It may be, however, that, under all the circumstances, the tenancy may be deemed to be terminated, the tenant has left and there is no doubt as to his intention, in which case the tenancy is also deemed to be terminated.

What other real estate law articles might interest you?

  1. What to look out for when buying a property
  2. How to get a mortgage
  3. What to check before buying a property
  4. Who pays property transfer tax and how?
  5. What should be included in a property purchase contract
  6. The most common mistakes when drafting a proposal to the Land Registry
  7. Buying a property from a developer
  8. Keeping the purchase price when buying a property
  9. The difference between a condominium and a freehold
  10. What is an annuity?
  11. How to properly gift a property
  12. What is the purpose of an easement or servitude?
  13. Making a will and settling an estate
  14. What is a collation
  15. What shouldn’t be missing in a lease agreement
  16. When rent increases can be made
  17. Termination of the lease
  18. Agreement to end the tenancy
  19. How to draw up a work contract with a tradesman
  20. Hidden defects and cancellation of a work contract
  21. When do you need planning permission to renovate a property?
  22. Home Rules
  23. What does serving on a condominium board entail?
  24. Why not underestimate the bylaws in a condominium
  25. Common areas in a block of flats
  26. What is involved in refurbishing a block of flats
  27. Can a condominium or housing association go into debt?
  28. How to renovate a house or cottage
  29. What to watch out for when dealing with a construction “company”?
  30. Building a house on a “green field”
  31. How to remove land from the agricultural fund

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

Education
  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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