Good afternoon and thank you for posting your question. In answer to
your question, anyone can break a lease at anytime, no matter where
you live, HOWEVER, I have found no state or Federal law allowing you
to get away without paying something for breaking your lease.
A few states have statutes that allow tenants to get out of leases if
they are in the military and have received orders posting them more
than a certain number of miles away. And a few states allow elderly
tenants to get out of a lease if they are accepted to an assisted-care
facility, however, I have not found such a law in Missouri. The only
law in Missouri regarding legally breaking a lease is geared towards
Military personnel provisions - Active-duty members of the armed
forces may terminate a lease with 15 days' notice if they:
1. Receive a permanent change of station.
2. Receive temporary duty orders to a station at least 25 miles
away for 90 days or more.
3. Are discharged or released from active duty.
4. Are ordered to live in government-supplied quarters.
Under these conditions, a tenant is entitled to a full refund of the
security deposit if other lease provisions have been met. Tenants who
are military personnel may have additional rights under the Service
Members Civil Relief Act.
Source: Missouri Landlord-Tenant Law
( http://ago.missouri.gov/publications/landlordtenant.htm )
Additionally, while some states have limits on how long the landlord
can continue to charge rent after the tenant has left, many do not,
and you could be responsible for paying the remainder of your
grandmother?s lease, in full, up front.
Most states require the landlord to take reasonable steps to re-rent
the unit and credit the new rent toward the remainder on the lease.
This is known as mitigating the damages. This means that you will be
liable only for the months the unit was vacant.
Additionally, you may be charged by the landlord for his costs in
re-renting the apartment (placing ads, showing the unit, cleaning,
I recommend NOT hiring an attorney to resolve the issue as pursuing a
solution in small claims court would add to your debt rather than
come to your aid. However, if you have tried negotiating and your
grandmother?s landlord still won't budge, your final option may be to
contact a mediator. Mediators are usually publicly funded and
available free or at low cost. Missouri has a good search system for
locating a mediator for your type of case. You can find a searchable
( http://attorneypages.com/557MO/ )
For more information, consider ordering "Break Your Lease Without
Breaking the Law", which can be found at:
"...[it] discusses the five legal ways to walk away from a residential
lease without running afoul of the landlord or the law. In plain
English, it explains the ins and outs of getting out, including how
1. get the landlord to cancel the lease
2. terminate the lease by finding a new tenant
3. assign the lease to someone else
If you have any other questions, you can contact:
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Housing Discrimination Hotline: 800-669-9777
Missouri Commission on Human Rights
Department of Labor and Industrial Relations
3315 West Truman Boulevard, Suite 212
Jefferson City, MO 65109
Kansas City Human Relations Department
City Hall, 4th Floor
414 East 12th Street
Kansas City, MO 64106
Kansas City Fair Housing Center
Kansas City, MO 64127
(816) 923-3247 (p)
(816) 923-1788 (f)
Legal Aid of Western Missouri
920 Southwest Blvd.
Kansas City, MO 64108
Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
PO Box 899
Jefferson City, MO 65102
( http://www.ago.mo.gov )
I hope this answers your question. If you need any clarification
before rating, please do not hesitate to ask!
Google Search Terms:
Clarification of Answer by
25 Jul 2005 08:55 PDT
Please be advised that I am not a lawyer and cannot give you legal
advice, however, I would be willing to bet that the contract signed by
your mother-in-law is valid because of the signature and because she
did not sign under duress. However, if you were to fight the validity
of the contract in court, with documented proof of her dementia, I
would think that the law would be on your side.
"...The law presumes that a person is competent (or has ?capacity?)
until contrary proof is offered [Vo v. Pham 81 Wa. App. 781 (1996).]
Mental competency is a factual issue that must be determined at the
time of the challenged transaction, and the challenging party must
overcome the presumption of competency with clear, cogent and
convincing evidence. [Page v Prudential Life Insurance Company of
America,12 Wa. 2d. 101 (1942).] In discussing mental competency to
sign contracts the courts will look to whether the signing party
?possessed sufficient mind or reason to enable him to comprehend the
nature, terms, and effect of the contract in issue.? [Page v.
Prudential Life Insurance Company of America,12 Wa. 2d. 101 (1942).]"
Source: Townbridge Foundation
( http://www.trowbridgefoundation.org/docs/wills.htm )
If you truly want to fight this lease, I suggest contacting a lawyer
in your area for a free consultation.
You can call the Missouri Lawyer Referral Service at 573/636-3635 from
9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday (except holidays).
The Lawyer Referral Service representative will ask your name, address
and telephone number and ask you to state your problem briefly. The
representative will then refer you to an attorney in or near your
county with whom you can make an appointment or receive a phone
consultation. This attorney will be advised by the Lawyer Referral
Service representative that you are being referred.
The Missouri Lawyer Referral Service does not provide lawyer referrals
in St. Louis, Kansas City and Springfield.
In St. Louis, call the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis
Lawyer Referral Service at 314/621-6681.
In Kansas City, call the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association
Lawyer Referral Service at 816/221-9472.
In Springfield, call the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association
Lawyer Referral Service at 417/831-2783.
The attorney to whom you are referred will grant you an initial
consultation of up to 30 minutes with no fee for the attorney.
However, there will be a $25 administrative charge which you must pay,
whether or not the lawyer accepts the case. This fee will be collected
by the attorney and will be sent to the Lawyer Referral Service to
help pay the cost of maintaining the service. If you consult with the
attorney by telephone rather than by an office visit, you may be
billed directly by the Missouri Lawyer Referral Service.
I would also suggest that if you haven?t already done so, that you
create a Power of Attorney. A power of attorney is created when one
person (the ?principal?) gives someone else (the ?attorney in fact?)
written authority to act in the principal?s name. Normally, the
attorney in fact is not a lawyer, but rather a friend or relative.
It is created by a written document stating the names of both the
principal and the attorney in fact, along with the specific powers
given to the attorney in fact.
Please let me know if you need anything else.