What Is Involved in Breaking an Apartment Lease

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A lease is a legally binding contract that prohibits you from ending monthly rental payments before your lease term expires. However, life happens and sometimes you encounter circumstances that are simply unavoidable. You might have accepted an offer for a new job out of town. Perhaps you are moving in with a fiancée. An illness might be uprooting your life. Or, maybe you are being forced to downsize for economic reasons (in which case, any penalties should be weighed carefully). Whatever the reason, there are a few things you should know when navigating this process.

More than likely, your lease states you will be charged a fee for terminating your lease early. A common penalty is two month’s rent, plus perhaps an additional fee, though you should read the lease language carefully to find your specific obligations.

If you are in a rush, you might be inclined to simply pay the fine and move on. Be advised that your landlord will be within their rights to potentially sue you which could result in a lowered credit score, and you might have difficulties in securing a new place to rent. If you have been a good tenant thus far, however, your landlord might be willing to work with you and you might even be able to reduce or eliminate a penalty.

Provide Advance Notice

If you are able to, providing two month’s (or more) notice might be considered a reasonable and workable solution. You also might offer to make your apartment available for showing, keeping it in “show-ready” condition as much as possible. This could provide enough time for your landlord to secure a new tenant and not have any loss income due to your change in circumstance.

Do the Legwork

Perhaps an even more attractive option – finding a new tenant for your landlord so they won’t be required to expend any additional effort. If you spread the word early and find an attractive candidate(s) – the landlord will still need to do their own vetting, certainly – you might have solved the problem entirely.

Offer a Sublette

Some landlords prohibit subletting an apartment; however, this could be an amenable option to some to avoid loss of rental income.

Forfeit Your Security Deposit

You might not have a choice in this matter, but offering to forgo your security deposit might be a great carrot, as there is a profit to be made.

Regardless of the circumstances, you should avoid any additional headache by ensuring your apartment upon move-out is clean, damage-free and in the same shape as when you moved in (or better).

 

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