The landlord and tenant can mutually agree to end the lease at any point. This agreement is called a mutual termination. The mutual termination is a negotiated agreement, and it can end the lease on whatever terms are agreeable to both parties. Neither party is required to agree to a mutual termination. The terms of the mutual termination should benefit both parties. The mutual termination should at least set the move-out date, determine what happens to the security deposit, and set the amount and schedule payment of any money owed to one party by the other. For a sample Mutual Termination Form, click here.
In the face of eviction, the mutual termination can be valuable to both the landlord and the tenant. For the tenant, the mutual termination gives a set move-out day, avoids an eviction on the tenant’s rental history, and may maintain eligibility for certain rental subsidies. For the landlord, the mutual termination gives a set date to take possession which may be quicker than the eviction process and may save the landlord the costs of filing the eviction and hiring an attorney.
The mutual termination can also be valuable for the tenant when the tenant wants to move during the term of the lease. In this situation, the mutual termination provides certainty in an otherwise uncertain situation – it gives a set move-out date, a smooth return of the property to the landlord, and establishes whether the tenant owes the landlord any money for leaving the lease early and should establish a payment schedule for any money owed. For more information about a tenant moving out early, see Breaking a Lease.