Thankfully, this is a question that doesn't come up very often. But sadly, it does come up. Can a tenant terminate a lease early because they claim to be a victim of domestic violence?
In Georgia, during the 2018 General Assembly, a new law was ratified that gives tenants the right to terminate a lease early without penalty if they are a victim of domestic violence. However, there are certain requirements that must be met:
- The tenant must provide 30 days written notice.
- The tenant must have a "civil family violence order" or "criminal family violence order" from the court that protects the tenant or their minor child.
- The tenant must provide a copy of the above court order when giving their written notice.
If these requirements are all met, the tenant is able to terminate the lease without penalty. It is important to note that if the tenant does this, it not only lets that specific tenant out of the lease but also terminates the entire lease agreement. This means that if the tenant was a joint tenant with another person, even if they aren't in any way related to the domestic violence matter, they are also released from the lease. The lease agreement terminates at the 30-day mark, and it must be processed as a move-out as if it was the normal lease termination with notice given by all parties to the lease. If any other tenants who were in the property with the terminating tenant wanted to stay, they would have to pay a new security deposit, do a new move-in, and sign a brand new lease.