Cincinnati, OH asked in Landlord - Tenant for Indiana

Q: If a tenant cannot pay their rent, can they be released from the lease if they use their deposit to cover unpaid rent

Tenants would vacate property willingly at end of rental period so no eviction notice would be needed.

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In most cases, a tenant cannot unilaterally decide to use their security deposit to cover unpaid rent and then be released from the lease agreement. The specific rules may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the terms of the lease agreement, but generally:

1. Security deposits are typically held by the landlord to cover potential damages to the property or unpaid rent at the end of the lease term. They are not intended to be used as a substitute for rent payments during the lease.

2. Most lease agreements require the tenant to pay rent for the entire lease term, regardless of their financial situation or desire to vacate the property early.

3. If a tenant is unable to pay rent, they should communicate with the landlord and attempt to work out a solution, such as a payment plan or temporary rent reduction. However, the landlord is not obligated to agree to these arrangements.

4. If the tenant vacates the property without the landlord's agreement, they may still be responsible for paying rent for the remaining lease term, even if the landlord uses the security deposit to cover some of the unpaid rent.

5. In some cases, a landlord might agree to release a tenant from the lease if they find a suitable replacement tenant to take over the lease. However, this is at the landlord's discretion.

Tenants facing financial hardship should research local tenant rights organizations and government assistance programs that may provide support or guidance in dealing with their specific situation.

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