Breaking a Lease: How to Get Out of a Lease Early

The question on breaking a lease has become quite prevalent on this blog. There are numerous people seeking how to get out of a lease early.

It is obvious the moment you see such a question that someone is about to break a lease. However, this is not something out of the ordinary. 

Why?

People are breaking lease early every other day due to varied reasons. 

Hold on…Maybe you are not aware of what is a lease. Before I proceed,

lease is a written agreement for property renting for a specific period of time, generally one year. This agreement is usually between a tenant and a landlord. 

When the fixed term of the lease ends, the following things could happen:

  1. The tenant will move out. 
  2. The tenant and the landlord sign a new lease that contains different or similar terms.
  3. The tenant continues to stay in the rental with the landlord’s approval, making a new tenancy, mainly a month-to-month tenancy with the same terms and conditions as the old lease.
  4. The tenant stays in the rental even if the landlord wants the tenant to move, pushing the landlord to begin eviction proceedings as per the agreement terms.

Renters may decide to break an apartment lease for a number of reasons, as I have mentioned above. 

No matter the reason, however, such a decision will always pose a difficult situation for both the tenant and the landlord. 

The reason could be that the tenant is relocating for a job, taking on a roommate, or any other reason. 

There is a need for proper care and planning in breaking a lease.

Actually, in addition to legal reasons for breaking a lease, there are also ways on how to break a lease legally. 

Let me first focus on the reasons to break a lease.

Legal Reasons for Breaking a Lease

Fear of consequences is not the main reason for all early releases. There are situations that allow you to break your lease early with no inherent penalties. Such situations may include:

  • In case your landlord has breached the rental agreement.
  • In case there is an early termination clause included in the lease agreement. 
  •  In case you have been a domestic violence victim within the last few months. 
  • In case you or your co-tenant is facing a health crisis.
  • In case the landlord fails to maintain the residence in a favorable and habitable manner.
  • In case the current lease was illegal in the first place. This normally happens when the landlord did not have the rights to rent out the property or if the building is not up to code.
  • In case you are an active member of the military who is required to change their station.

How to Get Out of Lease 

At some point, you might have been looking for how to get out of your lease without having to incur the breaking lease cost or the penalty of breaking lease.

Continue reading to understand how to get out of lease agreement without accruing the legal consequences likely to be encountered when breaking a lease.   

1. Examine the Lease Agreement for any Potential Loopholes 

Check whether there is a section in the lease that explains how to terminate it; more of an opt-out clause.

 With such, you will be able to move out early upon paying an agreed-upon fee. This is if such a fee has been mentioned in the agreement.

Identifying and highlighting a point where the landlord has failed to fulfill their obligations as stipulated in the agreement could also be a favorable way of breaking your lease.

You should, however, consult a lawyer on this one before taking action.

Should your landlord disagree on violating these terms, it may cost you a lot legally.

This is one of the situations that allow you to leave your apartment without notice, without being required to pay a breaking lease fee.

When there is evidence to show that the unit is uninhabitable, then you can evict yourself without being liable for damages at all.

Legally, this is referred to as “constructive eviction.”

Generally, you are saying that, by failing to provide you with livable housing, the landlord has evicted you.

You will be expected to give notice and document your living situation.

This should include evidence of any communication with your landlord to show that they failed to fix the situation.

This option is only viable when there are severe problems with the rental unit.

2. Consult the Landlord about Breaking the Lease

Many landlords are very understanding. They may help you find a solution more so if your reason for wanting to break the lease is not legally covered but is reasonable.

When your situation would make it hard for you to pay the rent, such as job loss, for instance, they would prefer to get a new tenant who can pay. Furthermore, they are in business.

The moment you become honest with your landlord, the more likely they are to help you in breaking your lease.

Humanity is not lost after all. There are still a lot of people out there who are understanding.

3. Consider Subletting

There is the possibility should you be unable to break your lease, you could instead sublet your apartment.

 With this, your name remains on the lease, but you do not have to pay the month’s rent.

 In case you’re hoping to get your deposit back by subletting your apartment, you’ll need to set a move-out date for your subletter.

4. Consider Assigning the Lease

You can consider assigning your lease in case you are not okay with the subletting idea.

 In assigning your lease, you can transfer your lease agreement to a new resident who starts paying rent directly to your landlord or the relevant property management company. 

However, you will not be completely free of liability under the lease, meaning that should the newly assigned tenant fail to honor their obligation to pay rent within the expected period, the landlord or property manager could still come looking for you. 

This is the reason why you should verify how trustworthy a prospective resident is. Just like subletting, your landlord should give consent to completing a lease assignment.

You cannot just do it at your own discretion. 

5. Weigh Your Options 

If you want to break a lease for a reason that is not protected by law, it may be advisable to wait until your lease is over. 

When you opt on breaking a lease early, you may be required to pay your landlord or management company an agreed amount of money. 

You may also suffer consequences such as civil cases and long-term damage to your credit score.

This information is not meant to scare you but to give you insight into the possible consequences of breaking a lease. 

When you faithfully follow the terms in your original lease agreement, then breaking a lease should not be hard.

Below are some of the consequences that might accrue when breaking a lease inappropriately.

Read: How to Close a Bank of America Account

Consequences of Breaking a Lease Illegally

As mentioned above, a lease is a legally binding agreement between a landlord and a tenant. When a tenant breaks it, he or she could suffer severe legal consequences such as:

  • The landlord can file a lawsuit against the tenant for breach of contract and damages.
  • The landlord has the right to sue the tenant for unpaid rent.
  • Eviction and judgments have a negative effect on a tenant’s credit score.
  • The tenant may have an eviction included on their record.
  • Eviction and/or poor credit can make it difficult for the tenant to find a new apartment.

Now I am confident that you are aware of how to get out of your lease. As you have read, breaking lease on an apartment might be tricky but doable if approached appropriately. 

Always make sure that the actions you take while breaking a lease are legal. This will save you a lot on penalties and fees. 

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