Updated October 29, 2020:

To know how to get out of a contract with a contractor, you must go through the terms of the contract and review the wording of the cancellation policy. All contracts should include the "Notice of Right to Cancel Policy."

Although each state has its cancellation deadline, most states allow customers to cancel signed contracts within three business days, with no further action required on the part of the consumer.

Consumers only need to mail in a signed and dated written notice of cancellation on or before midnight of the third business day following the signing of the contract. Once mailed, the notice becomes valid as long as it is mailed to the contractor's correct address.

If there is a valid reason for canceling the contract after the cancellation period allowed by the law, you should keep written logs noting conversations, times, and dates.

Reasons for canceling a contract include

  • Lack of professional licensing.
  • Breach of contract.
  • Unfair practices.
  • Fraud.

However, evidence of wrongdoing must be provided to prove any allegation.


Consumers should consult an attorney if they want to void the contract after the cancellation period. The attorney should be an expert in contract law within the state. When going for an appointment, take copies of payments, conversations, and other records.

Notice of Right to Cancel

By California law, consumers must be given the Notice of Right to Cancel when they sign the contract; or they can cancel the contract within three days after they receive the notice — even when the service has been provided. In California, a seven-day cancellation period is allowed for emergency repairs that result from disasters such as earthquakes.

Home remodeling contractors must return down payments to customers if their contracts are canceled within the stipulated time frame. Since California law requires all contractors to be licensed, an unlicensed contractor cannot enforce the terms of a contract.

Homeowners should retain all correspondence pertaining to the cancellation of contracts, in the event of future legal action.

Individuals are advised to create written contracts for all independent contractors. The contract should include the start and end dates for the work agreement. It must include the following items

  • Contractor's legal name.
  • Type of work required.
  • Payment rate and terms.

Termination clauses should also be added indicating viable reasons under which the contract can be terminated. For instance, if the contractor does not complete/submit work as at when due. After the independent contractor work agreement has been signed, file a signed copy of the contract.


If you want to end a contract before the due date, you should go through the contents of the contract to determine if there are clauses that support such an action. Most contracts contain provisions allowing either party to end the contract — but only under specific conditions. Termination clauses or provisions are usually found in property leases and employment agreements. Proper notice must be given before terminating a contract before its due date. Although you may have to pay penalties or meet certain obligations for ending the contract early, the other contracting party has no grounds to sue you.

Breach of Contract

In most cases, a contract can be terminated by one party if the other party fails to execute their end of the agreement. If one party is unwilling or unable to keep to the terms of the contract, you can legally end the contract. Do a careful review of the contract to note areas where the other party failed to carry out contractual obligations. If the agreement was based on misrepresentation or the other party erroneously entered into the contract, the contract can be voided without fear of litigation.

Cannot Perform

Contracting parties can end a contract if they become unable to hold up their end of the agreement due to changed circumstances. One of the grounds for terminating a contract is “Impossibility of performance.” This occurs in situations where circumstances beyond the control of a contracting party prevent performance. Incapacity or death of a key facilitator of the contract often results in such a situation. Natural disasters are another viable reason that can lead to the impossibility of performance. Once a contracting party can prove that they cannot abide by or perform according to the terms of an agreement due to circumstances beyond their control, they can end the contract without being sued or held for breach of contract.

If you need help with how to get out of a contract with a contractor, you can post your legal need on the UpCounsel marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of attorneys/lawyers on its site. Attorneys on UpCounsel come from prestigious law schools like Yale Law and Harvard Law and usually have 14 years of legal experience, including work on behalf of or with companies like Airbnb, Menlo Ventures, and Google.