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What are the potential legal actions from a breach of contract?

Good relations between parties to a contract can turn sour quickly during real estate disputes. There is often a misunderstanding between the parties regarding the language of their contract. It is also possible that one of the contracting parties is willingly breaking the terms of the contract. This situation can arise when a tenant is breaking their rental lease agreement.

Rental agreements between a landlord and a tenant are governed by federal, state and sometimes local real estate laws. If a tenant breaks the terms of the contract, the landlord can pursue damages in court. The tenant should be aware of all available courses of action prior to violating the terms of the lease agreement.

Tenants who wish to leave the premises early have several options. First, it is often beneficial to enter into negotiations with the landlord. The landlord may voluntarily release the tenant from the lease agreement, as long as a specified notice is provided from the tenant. A tenant should also take time to understand the specific terms of the lease, because the lease agreement may have a month-to-month provision after the initial length of the lease is met. Depending on the language of the contract, a tenant may be able to vacate after a short period of time. Finally, the tenant can argue the lease should be terminated for legal reasons. Under Pennsylvania law, landlords have certain duties to tenants. If the landlord failed to uphold their contractually obligated responsibilities, such as timely repairs, the tenant may pursue a termination of the lease agreement.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a real estate dispute between a landlord and a tenant, you should consider contacting an attorney to discuss the legal ramifications of a breach of contract.

Source: University of Pittsburgh, "Tenant's Rights," Accessed on Nov. 13, 2014

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