How to break a lease

How to break a lease

Breaking a lease can be a stressful and complicated process, but sometimes life circumstances call for it. Whether you're relocating for work, moving in with a partner, or facing economic challenges, it's important to understand the implications of breaking a lease and the steps you can take to mitigate any negative impact.

Read your rental agreement to learn about obligations in your lease

First and foremost, it's essential to recognize that a lease is a legally binding contract between you and your landlord. Typically, breaking a lease before the end of its term will result in penalties, which can include a fee of two months' rent or more. However, the specific terms of your lease may vary, so it's crucial to review the language carefully to understand your obligations. It's important to keep an eye out for whether or not your lease mentions an early termination or subletting clause.

Is my lease invalid?

It's also important to ask yourself what makes a lease invalid, which may be proven if the lease does not include and ending date, monthly rent amount, security deposit details, the lease agreement wasn't signed by both parties or the lease does not specify the property in question with it's residential address.

Legally justified reasons to break a lease without penalty

In some cases, there is enough criteria that allows for a tenant to break a lease without penalty because of other reasons. These reasons may include:

The unit being un inhabitable

In every state, there are minimum health and safety expectations to be upheld for rental units. If these standards are not met by the property managers or landlords, the tenant may move-out without further upholding of the agreement.

You have lost your right to privacy or have been harrassed

If a landlord enters a tenant's premises without permission, that can be an invasion of privacy and adequate notice must be provided. Failing to make repairs or respond in a timely manner to these requests, failing to respond to proper payment of rent or withholding amenities, all are apt reasons to terminate the lease without any liability.

The lease has an early termination section

It's important that if your agreement mentions specific terms in which it would allow you to break the lease early, usually there is a prerequisite penalty fee that was agreed to, but is expected to be included in the lease both the landlord and tenant initially agree upon.

Provide your landlord with advanced notice

If you find yourself in a situation where breaking your lease is unavoidable, there are a few steps you can take to minimize the impact. One option is to provide your landlord with advanced notice of your intention to leave. Giving at least two months' notice can be seen as a reasonable solution and may allow your landlord sufficient time to find a new tenant, minimizing their loss of rental income.

Do the legwork for them

Another approach is to do the legwork and find a new tenant yourself. By spreading the word and finding a suitable candidate, you may be able to solve the problem entirely and avoid penalties. Some landlords may even be willing to waive penalties if you find a new tenant for them.

Explore subletting

If finding a new tenant isn't an option, you may be able to sublet your apartment. However, not all landlords allow subletting, so it's important to check your lease agreement first.

Consider forfeiting your security deposit

In some cases, forfeiting your security deposit may be a viable option to avoid penalties. However, this should only be considered if you have no other choice, as it means giving up money that you would otherwise be entitled to.

Move-out respectfully

Regardless of the steps you take, it's essential to leave your apartment in good condition upon move-out. This means ensuring it's clean, damage-free, and in the same state as when you moved in. Doing so can help minimize any additional headaches and ensure you maintain a positive relationship with your landlord, which can be important if you plan to rent in the future.

Breaking a lease can be a difficult decision, but by understanding your options and taking the appropriate steps, you can minimize any negative consequences and move on with your life. Remember to review your lease agreement carefully and communicate openly with your landlord to find the best solution for everyone involved.