Breaking a lease is rarely a simple matter and in some situations, it’s simply unavoidable. Regardless of the reason, if you aren’t careful, you could end up suffering a wide range of negative consequences. 

If you’re lucky, your landlord might be understanding. Ideally, he/she will work with you to figure out a mutually beneficial solution. 

Alternatively, if your landlord isn’t sympathetic and you don’t have legal grounds to break your lease, you might end up having to pay rent for whatever time is left. Your landlord could also sue, meaning you end up with a negative entry on your credit report. 

 

Know your rights

There are certain situations when you are permitted, by law, to break your lease with little to no penalties. However, even in these cases, you might still have to give up part of the security deposit. As a tenant, there are different rights depending on the state you live in, so check the local laws. Usually though, in the following situations, you are protected.

  • Your lease has a clause for early termination
  • You’ve been called for active-duty military service
  • Your apartment becomes uninhabitable due to circumstances beyond your control like a natural disaster or criminal act
  • You’re a domestic violence victim
  • You become unable to live independently due to a health issue
  • Your landlord isn’t upholding their obligation to ensure your apartment is habitable
  • Your landlord isn’t allowing you privacy as laid out by the law

You will have to provide proof for all of the above situations. What constitutes as proof can differ from one state to the next, so make sure to speak to a qualified attorney before moving forward. One way to avoid any drama when breaking a lease is to rent an apartment from a company like Blueground. They offer beautiful apartments in major metropolitan areas, all of which come completely furnished and fully equipped. Blueground offers fully-furnished, equipped and serviced apartments in some of the world's most sought after cities. In addition, every Blueground tenant has access to a mobile application. From there they can request maintenance, schedule a cleaning or learn about the new neighborhood. You’ll never have to worry about a “breach of quiet enjoyment” clause because Blueground is committed to providing a wonderful mid to long-term experience.
 

Read your lease

Now that you’re aware of your renter’s rights, it’s time to re-read your lease. You have to read it very carefully to see if it explains how you can break it. You’ll also want to see what penalties might be involved. For instance, you might find that your lease states you have to provide a minimum of two months’ notice before vacating. Or, that you might be required to find another tenant before moving out.

Most leases do have an immediate termination option, but they usually involve very large fees. You’re also very likely to lose your security deposit too. So, it’s best to find an alternative. 

 

Have a word with your landlord

Not all landlords are out to get you. In fact, if you make it a point to have a good relationship with your landlord, you’ll gain a lot of benefits. One of those being that they might be more open to the idea of you breaking a lease early – and therefore be less inclined to deal with the penalties. 

a man wearing a blue button down shirt is on the phone while smiling and fist pumping the air

Remember, landlords aren’t villains. You’d be surprised at how little it takes to cultivate a good relationship. Keep in mind that this is someone who might constantly be the target of other people’s ire simply because of their job

A kind word here and there, being polite and being honest will work wonders. When you have a good relationship with your landlord, they are more open to helping you out in return. 

 

Find a new tenant

In many states, if you move out early, you will be required to find a new tenant in your place. This is referred to as mitigating the damages of breaking a lease early. Essentially, you’re supposed to minimize the losses the landlord suffers from your early departure.

There are two possible options here. One is to sublet, which means someone else will be living in the property, but the lease is still in your name. The problem with that is that you are still responsible for everything the subletter does. If they don’t pay, you still have to find a way to get the rent to the landlord. If they cause any damages, you have to pay for them – even if they don’t pay you in return. 

The other option is to re-rent, which basically means that the person you found will sign their own lease directly with the landlord. In this case, they’ll also have to pay their own security deposit. Remember that your landlord isn’t obligated to accept just anyone you bring along. There are a number of factors that can influence their decision, including the person’s available funds, credit score, rental history, and more.

It might sound like a lot of work to find a new tenant. Unfortunately, you could end up having to pay for the time the apartment remains vacant, so it is really beneficial for you to put effort in.

 

Be willing to pay

Breaking a lease is expensive for both you and for the landlord, so you will have to be prepared to pay some penalties. You can either pay the termination penalties, or you can cover the rent until your lease runs out, or until your landlord finds another renter, whichever comes first.

a man wearing a black suit and a maroon tie holds out a fist full of American dollars in cash in front of a blue background

If you do opt to pay the fee for immediate termination, talk to your landlord as they might be willing to give you some discounts, even if the lease says the contrary.

 

Speak to the local tenant’s union

If you and your landlord don’t get along, a good solution is to speak to a Tenants Union. These organizations deal with disputes between tenants and landlords. They can be very helpful in explaining your rights, but also if your landlord is making things unnecessarily more difficult.

 

Get a lawyer

If you feel like your landlord is being unfair and trying to get far more money out of you than the lease states, then contact a lawyer. This is also the case if you can provide proof that the property is uninhabitable and the landlord isn’t doing anything about it.

Breaking a lease is rarely easy or cheap. However, it can be done. After all, no one can force you to live somewhere you don’t want to. Just make sure to know your rights and seek professional advice if the situation gets complicated. 

Before taking any drastic measures, talk to your landlord. You might be surprised how understanding people can be!

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