In some cases, as a renter, you may have to break your lease. This could be for a variety of reasons including divorce or job relocation. Whatever the reason is, you will have to be transparent with your property manager or landlord. This article will help describe how to get out of a lease if you are left with no other choice.
How to Get Out of A Lease
Step 1 – Review your Lease Agreement
It is absolutely essential that you revisit your lease agreement. Virtually all lease agreements have a fixed term of usually 1 year. If you want to break your lease prior to the end of the agreed upon term, you will be responsible for the remaining month’s rent. With that said, there are a variety of clauses to look for when reviewing your signed rental agreement. In addition, there are many states where there are circumstances that justify breaking your lease.
Common Lease Break Clauses
- The buy-out clause
- Some rental agreements have a buy-out clause that allow the tenant to break the lease for any reason as long as fees are paid. This is usually 30 days notice and 2 months of rent but can vary by contract.
- Early termination clause
Justifications of Breaking the Lease
- You are starting active military duty
- Under federal law, if you enter into active military duty, you have the right to break the lease. You must prove and give your landlord or property manager written notice that you intend to terminate your lease for military reasons.
- You are a victim of domestic violence
- In most states, if you are a victim of domestic violence and you provide the landlord a copy of the police report, you may be able to break your lease.
- Your Landlord Violates your Privacy Rights
- If your landlord is violating your privacy rights or harasses you, most states allow you break your lease.
- Property or Rental Unit is Unsafe to Occupy
- Most states allow for a lease to be broken if the property is not in safe condition and is not within the local and state housing codes. There are usually specific requirements the tenant must do in order for this to kick in. For example, giving the landlord a specific amount of time to repair the problem. The problem must be truly serious like a lack of heating or other essential service that could mean life or death for this to be applicable.
Step 2 – Break the Lease
If none of the above are applicable to you breaking the lease, the next step would be to break the lease while trying to save as much money as possible. Here are a few things you can do to limit the amount of headache and cost:
- Speak with your Landlord and find a Replacement
- If you have been a good tenant and have paid your rent on time, your landlord is much more likely to work with you. One way to break your lease is to speak with the landlord, explain your situation, and offer to help find a qualified tenant to take over your lease.
- Break up the fees over Time
- If you cannot find a replacement, you will be responsible for the remaining month’s rent. One thing you can do is ask the landlord if you can pay a portion of the total fees over a few months instead of one lump sum.
- Give Notice and Forfeit your Deposit
- If you have many months left on the agreement, you may be able to work with the landlord and give them 60 days notice as well as forfeit your deposit. This would technically give the landlord 90 days to find a rental replacement.
At the end of the day, if you have no other choice but to break your lease, it is imperative that you work with your landlord to help them fill the vacancy with a quality tenant. A contract is there for a reason so make sure you abide by it or you may just have to face additional legal consequences and additional cost for breaking your lease too early.