Are You Legally Allowed to Break Your Apartment Lease?

Picture this: You have been enjoying life at your apartment for months, but then you receive a devastating loss of your job or a family member passes, causing you to have to move home and take care of vital life matters. As everybody knows, there are many valid reasons for wanting or needing to break the lease on your apartment, making a difficult situation for everyone involved. In some cases, your landlord may choose not to penalize you for this decision, but in other cases you could have lasting consequences. Because of this, you want to know how to get out of your lease in the most positive way possible.

Are There Penalties Involved?

Sometimes. Leases are considered to be legally binding agreements, which means that if you back out on one, your landlord could potentially take legal action for back rent payments and more. Unfortunately, to the courts, things like job loss and illness do not legally excuse you from breaking your lease. On the other hand, you could also experience a difficult time being able to rent in the future, which is a huge consideration to make. It could leave an adverse mark on your credit report, which future landlords will see and this could lead to the denial of your rental application. 

Best Ways to Break a Lease, if Necessary

It’s always best to carefully review your lease prior to signing, but if you’ve already signed a lease, here are some tips. For your protection, it pays to know the ways in which you may be able to break your lease without too many negative consequences to yourself and your landlord. We can help.

Reading Your Agreement: You should always turn to the rental agreement you originally signed for options before you take other steps. One section could contain information on how to break the lease and may even list penalties for doing so. Look for words like “early release” and “sublet” to return to, as these will be options to consider down the line. You may also legally have to give notice of your intention to vacate in advance, just like you would when leaving a job.

Speaking One-on-One: Having open communication with your landlord is better than letting the issue fester out of control. It helps them look into options well into advance, so always be honest with them.

Subletting: You may be able to find a new renter and agree to it between you and your landlord, helping you move out early and helping them replace the costs. You may be able to choose subletting, which is where somebody will take over your current lease even though the lease would remain under your name. Though you would be responsible, the benefits may still outweigh the negative parts.

Termination Offers: Your landlord may give you termination offers, such as paying a few month’s rent in advance or forfeiting your security deposit. Those these can be disadvantages to you, it could be the better option depending on the circumstances. 

These situations can be difficult, which is why you should always be prepared. Keep your landlord in the loop and consider the options that work best for everybody involved.

David Jackson

David is a personal finance expert, a professional male model, and an entertainment writer.