Revoking a contract of lease

The landlord or the tenant has the right to revoke the lease at once for certain reasons. Usually, the reason is that one of the parties has failed to fulfill his obligations.

Landlord’s right to revoke lease

The landlord has the right to revoke the lease if, for example

  • the tenant has not given a security deposit as agreed
  • the tenant has not paid the rent
  • the tenant has, in violation of law, assigned the lease or otherwise handed over the apartment to somebody else’s use
  • the apartment has been used for some other purpose, or in some other way, than what was agreed in the lease
  • the tenant behaves disturbingly or violates the building’s regulations
  • the apartment is not properly cared for.

The landlord can only revoke the lease because of a major breach of contract by the tenant. The lease cannot be revoked because of minor negligence.

The most common reason for revoking the lease is that the tenant has not paid the rent. If you have not paid the rent for two or three months, or if your payments are irregular all the time, this may give the landlord the right to revoke the lease.

Especially in a block of flats, there is always different types of noise, and you must tolerate other residents living normally in the building. However, if noise from an apartment disturbs other residents often and all the time, it may be possible to revoke the lease. Disturbing behaviour includes being noisy in general, often playing music or an instrumently loudly, and dogs barking continuously. Any noise in the night time is more likely to be regarded as disturbing behaviour.

Poor care of the apartment means, for example, that the structures and equipment of the apartment have been damaged or a harmful odor due to poor hygiene. For more information on the tenant’s responsibilities for taking care of the apartment, see the section Tenant’s obligations and liability.

If your rent is overdue, the landlord has the right to revoke the lease without a separate warning. If the landlord wishes to termination the lease because of disturbing behaviour or because the tenant does not look after the apartment properly, they must first give the tenant a written warning. The purpose of the warning is to give the tenant a chance to correct his behaviour.

Tenant’s right to revoke the lease

The tenant has the right to revoke the lease if, for example

  • using the apartment for the purpose mentioned in the lease is an obvious health risk for the tenant
  • he tenant does not have access to the apartment on the agreed date and this causes major inconvenience
  • the apartment is not in the required or agreed condition at the beginning of the lease, or its condition becomes poor during the lease. The tenant can only cancel the lease if the poor condition has major importance and the landlord does not rectify it.
  • the landlord starts large renovations and repairs in the apartment.

The tenant must prove that there is a health risk, for example by a statement from the municipal health authority. The tenant’s right to termination the lease does not depend on the health risk being caused by some action of the landlord. On the other hand, the tenant only has the right to compensation if the landlord has been negligent.

The landlord must make the apartment available to the tenant on the date on which the tenant has the right to take it over. If this does not happen and the delay causes major problems, the tenant has the right to termination the lease. An example of major problems is if the tenant has nowhere to live, and the landlord does not organise an alternative temporary apartment.

The tenant can only revoke the lease because of the flat’s poor condition if the poor condition is significant. The defects must have a significant impact on living in the flat. Odor nuisance and defects do not meet the criteria for terminationlation. In addition, the tenant only has the right to termination the lease if (s)he has asked the landlord to rectify the defects and the landlord does not do so as soon as possible or within the agreed time. Cases in which the lease can be cancelled for these reasons are rare. Usually, the landlord compensates for such situations by reducing the amount of rent.

Read more about when a rented apartment is in poor condition <linkki> 

The landlord must tell the tenant about any large repairs or renovation work in the apartment at least six months before it starts. In this case the tenant has the right, within 14 days of receiving this information, to revoke the lease by the date when the landlord is allowed to undertake repairs. The right to revoking only applies in case of large-scale repairs or renovations. If the repairs or renovations must be carried out straight away or they do not cause major problems or disturbance to the tenant, the tenant does not have the right to revoke the lease.

How do you revoke a lease?

The party that uses their right to revoke the lease must inform the other party of the cancellation in written. You must always have proof of delivery of such notices. The notice must include the reason for the cancellation and the the end date of the lease, if it does not end as soon as the notice is given.

If the lease is revoked but the tenant does not move out by the date the landlord has set, the landlord must take the matter to court and get an eviction judgment. The landlord may not evict the tenant herself/himself or, for example, change the locks in the apartment.


Filing a complaint and dispute resolution  

  • Claims should be submitted in written to the landlord. You can use the Complaint Assistant to draw up your complaint to the landlord, for example concerning the following situations:

    • Return of security deposit
    • Inadequate condition of the apartment
    • Contesting a claim for compensation
    • Reducing a rent increase
    • Termination/cancellation of the lease

    Making a complaint and the Complaint Assistant 

  • You should first try and resolve any problems with the landlord. If the dispute cannot be resolved, you can contact the Consumer Advisory Services and get instructions for the next steps.

    The Consumer Advisory Services

    You should note that if the landlord is a private person, the Consumer Advisory Services cannot investigate the problem or mediate in a dispute, and we can only provide advice at a general level.

    The Consumer Disputes Board can deal with most disputes over rental apartments between private individuals.