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Sexual Assault and Early Lease Termination

Sexual Assault

This article provides information on early lease termination for survivors of sexual assault.

Here, learn how Texas law allows tenants who are victims of sexual assault to break their lease and what steps they need to take.

Special thanks to the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault for contributions to this article.

I was sexually assaulted. Can I break my lease?

Texas law allows a tenant to break their lease if:

  1. The tenant is a victim of sexual assault, or the parent or guardian of such a victim,
  2. The incident took place in the past six months, and
  3. The incident took place on the premises where the victim lives. 

Do I have to give my landlord notice that I want to break my lease?

Yes. You must give your landlord 30 days' notice that you want to break your lease. 

Do I have to stay living in the rental property once I give my 30-day notice?

No. You can move out of the rental property, but you are responsible for rent during the 30-day notice period. 

Is there a sample letter I can use to give my landlord notice?

Yes. You can use this Early Lease Termination Letter from the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TASSA). Attach supported documentation to the letter when you give it to your landlord. Keep a copy of this letter and the documentation for your records. 

What documentation do I need to attach to the 30 day notice letter I give to my landlord?

The documentation can be:

  • A protective order issued by a court;
  • Paperwork showing that you've had medical treatment or mental health treatment from a licensed provider;
  • Proof you've received services from a rape crisis center. Contact your local rape crisis center and ask for early lease termination documentation.

Do I need to file a police report for the law to apply?

No. You do not need to file a police report. You only need to provide your landlord with notice and documentation. 

Do I have to give my landlord specific facts about the incident?

No. You do not have to share details about the incident with your landlord. You only need to provide your landlord with notice and documentation. 

Do I have to continue paying rent once I give notice?

Yes. You are responsible for paying rent until your lease ends 30 days after you've given notice. Your lease officially ends after the notice period. 

Will my landlord charge me a fee for breaking my lease early?

No. The law allows you to break your lease without penalty. This means your landlord cannot charge you for breaking your lease early. 

What if my landlord won't let me break my lease?

Your landlord must let you break your lease if you provide notice and documentation. Any landlord who violates the law can be held liable. You should contact a private attorney or Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault for assistance. 

Are there any resources to help me pay for moving costs?

Yes. If you filed a police report, you can file for rent and relocation costs through the Crime Victims' Compensation Program

Where do I find the law about early lease termination for survivors of sexual assault?

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