How would you feel about getting a new job but in a new city with a handsome salary? Amazing! Right? Now, what if the same thing turns into a headache out of the blue?
Well, that’s nothing impossible when you’re trying to break a lease that you’ve made for the rental unit you’re living in just to grab that job of yours.
But exactly how to get out of an apartment lease early if you’re in a situation where you can’t keep a hold on that anymore and need to leave? Guess what? That’s the answer we’re about to figure out today.
Best Way to Get Out of a Lease Early: Key Steps
Looking for an easier way to break a lease? Oops! Bad news! There’s none! But does that mean there’s no way to break your lease? Well, there surely are a few things you can, or maybe we better say ‘should’ do to reach the end of the lease easier such as –
Read the Lease Agreement
When you’re giving some serious thoughts on breaking a lease, then make sure that the first thing you’re doing is reading the entire rental agreement and looking for the early termination clause.
Give it a thorough review, especially the parts holding information about the way of getting out of the apartment lease, and also don’t miss what kind of penalties you might have to deal with.
Don’t skip the part where you see the related words such as sublet, relet, and of course, early release. In case you need to go through those parts again, keep a note of such pages. When you find them, take note of the page number so you can read it again later if necessary.
There can be indications of aspects where you’ll get to see if you’ll have to give prior notice before vacating the place or if you’ll have to find a new tenant to help out the landlord. If you get lucky enough you may find you’re on a tenancy-at-will agreement, or there might be a lease term regarding immediate termination of the lease, against a hefty fee, of course.
Talk to the Landlord
Landlords are always not the people that you’d like to have a chat with when you’re planning on breaking a lease, but you’ve got no other choice here. Clearly, the relationship between the landlord and tenant can be tricky at times, but there’s nothing that you can’t fix up with open communication.
If you’re keeping yourself transparent here, there’s a chance of you closing the lease before time.
The first move you need to make here is to give your building manager and landlord a mail as proper notice regarding the shifting. They might not like it in the first place, but they are human too, right?
So, if you’re being honest about the scenario, they might understand your situation (or might not). But as a responsible tenant, all you can do is give it your best shot so that you can come out of that apartment lease early without facing much of a hassle.
And yes, don’t forget to hit the landlord with as much notice as possible. In case you’re in need to break your lease immediately but can’t pay off the amount mentioned in the rental agreement, try arranging a sublet.
Finding a New Renter
In most states, where the tenant falls into a situation where she/he is in need of breaking a lease, looks for finding a new tenant as their replacement which is also known as “mitigate damages.” If you’ve got the chance to do something like that, give it a shot.
Now the question is, how are you going to pull that off? Well, there are two ways to get the job done.
Subletting is a situation where you or the landlord find an interested tenant who’d like to take your place. For that, they’ll have to go for a sublease agreement, but that lease will be in your name.
This means whether they don’t pay rent or damage the property somehow, you’re the one who’ll have to be responsible for that. And the security deposit? You won’t be getting that back unless the actual lease term is over.
This one is quite the opposite of subletting, where you’ll have to find a new tenant who will occupy your unit under a new lease agreement in his/her name. The new renter will have to pay the required cash as a security deposit, just like you had to.
If the landlord fails to find out new tenant faster, you might have to pay rent for those days the rental property remains vacant. As the landlord is not bound to find new tenants on your behalf, you better start working on that from the start. After all, you’re going to run out of a big pile of cash if you don’t.
In some states, the landlord-tenant laws hold both you and the landlord responsible for bringing in replacement tenants. If you’re in those states, then you may not have to deal with the hassle alone after all.
Considering the Lease Termination Offer
Failing to find new tenants is nothing impossible. In such cases, it’s better to consider the termination offers of the lease, especially when you need to leave the rental unit ASAP.
It’s quite common while any of the tenants break a lease that they’ll have to be paying rent for a couple of months along with losing the security deposits altogether.
But there’s no need to get frustrated as the landlord might cut off the fees a bit or even give you the security deposits back, whether the lease says it or not. You never know when the landlord agrees to make it all bearable for you both. So, try to stay positive and patient.
Preparing Early Termination Fees
If you’re breaking a lease, then be sure that both you and your landlord are going to find it financially challenging. After all, it’s often not a ‘cheap’ move as you might have to pay lease penalties, the big ones, of course.
But what if you refuse to pay them immediately to terminate the lease? Well, then you have to keep paying the rent till someone finds your place as their habitable housing and agrees to take it.
Hold on a second! Have you thought about if the landlord fails to re-rent someone who wants to pay rent payment as good as you? Well, in that case, you might have to fill that gap up and pay that difference.
Getting Everything in Writing
Make sure that the conversation to break a lease between you and the landlord is in writing, especially the part where you’re talking about money. You never know it comes in handy when you’re dealing with a legal issue like this.
Also, give the landlord written notice about your need of breaking the lease. By the way, email is the best way to conduct these conversations as that is more valid, legally.
In case you’re giving him a call to break a lease, take notes and later on send him a mail mentioning topics you’ve covered through the conversation.
Look for Legal Advice
Not all landlords are the same. Some of them try to take advantage, and in some cases, they don’t step back in violating tenant rights. In a situation like that, the best way to deal with it is to go for legal advising.
All you need to do is prove the allegations whether it’s about excessive rent or an unlivable atmosphere.
Can You Break a Lease Agreement Without Paying?
Does the ‘break a lease’ part always come against a big payment? Not necessarily! There’re exceptions as well. To be specific, under two situations, you’ll get the chance of getting out of the lease without receiving any financial impact or against minimal penalty.
Active-Duty Military Service
Have you ever heard about The federal SCRA or Service-members Civil Relief Act? Well, this federal law allows the members of armed forces to break a lease on housing before the lease ends, without paying any penalty, of course. But that’s under meeting certain conditions, such as;
- When you are an active-duty member of a branch of armed forces or military service like the Army, Air Force, Navy, or Marines.
- When you are an active-duty member of Coast Guard members and serving regularly.
- When you are an active-duty member of the National Guard
When you’re asked to rejoin active duty, you might have to break a lease, but for that, you need to submit a copy of the military order on a prior notice of 30 days at least. And if you’re asking about the active-duty status you need to have, it has to be 90 days at least — consecutive days, of course.
In case you’re in a situation where you have to break a lease after signing for active-duty status, submit the deployment or orders for permanent station change lasting 90 consecutive days at least.
Unit Under Serious Damage
Not most states but many of them give the renter permission to move on from the lease when the unit they live in becomes uninhabitable, especially the one that can’t be fixed or is beyond control. The situations we’re talking about can be anything like criminal acts or natural disasters.
There’s a ton of states out there in the US that allows the victims of domestic violence to come out of a housing lease without making them pay a single penny. All you need to do there is give 30-days prior notice, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have to stick to the place anymore.
What Can Be the Consequences If You Break the Agreement Lease Expires?
Okay! You already know when you can get out of the lease without losing any penny. But that’s not always going to be the case for sure, and you better be ready for the risk factors as well, like –
Facing Legal Actions
What can be the worst outcome in this part? Getting sued? Yup, you’ve got that part right, but that can take place under certain situations like –
- When you’ve moved out without paying the unpaid rent.
- When your whereabouts are not unknown to the landlord anymore.
- When the landlord is informed that you have the required resource to pay off unpaid rent.
- When the re-lease attempt by the landlord has been failed.
Facing Money Judgment
In case the court rules that you’re legally bound to pay off the due or remaining rent, you’ll be facing money judgment, in another word, the credit judgment. Under this kind of penalty, there’s a high chance of you receiving a major financial impact.
Chances of Losing Security Deposit
Looking for the worst-case scenario of breaking a lease? Count losing the security deposit in. The landlord might seize the deposit even if the matter doesn’t reach court.
Thankfully, most of the states in the US have limited the amount of that deposit to not more than one to two-month rent. So, if you’re trying to come out of a lease, paying that amount is enough there.
Dealing with Debt Collectors
So far probably you’ve seen debt collectors in the movies, but trust us, you definitely won’t like to deal with them in real life. If the landlord decides to go to them rather than the court, then you might have to face the aggressive attitude of the collection agencies.
If you’ve reached this part of the article, we’re guessing that you now know every answer related to the question about how to get out of an apartment lease early and also how to deal with the landlord about that.
Now all you need to do is make your moves carefully and confidently. Remember, it’s a lease, not a battleground that you can’t come out of without a scratch on you or your wallet.