When you sign an apartment lease, it is crucial that you keep all copies of the agreement and any similar emails and letters. You may not realize it at the time, but these documents may hold the information that you need to get out of your lease. Rental leases are legally binding contracts that are typically one year in length.
While 12 months may seem like a relatively short amount of time, a lot can happen during that year, causing you the need to break your rental agreement. Regardless if you need to break your lease because you are moving for a job or if you can no longer afford the rent payments, getting out of your contract is not always easy.
In fact, most landlords purposely make it difficult for renters to break rental agreements as a deterrent. While there are many consequences to getting out of a lease, there are ways to negotiate an exit strategy that both you and your landlord can agree on.
However, failing to do so can result in civil lawsuits or lowering your credit score. Therefore, to avoid any unwanted fees or penalties, it is essential to learn the proper ways to get out of your lease.
Speak with Your Landlord Right Away
The moment that you find out that you need to get out of your lease agreement is the moment that you need to speak with the landlord. Approaching them right away shows that you respect them and that you are not trying to put them in a tight spot. Be open and honest about your reasons for leaving and listen to what they have to say in return.
The sooner that you let a property owner know that you need to break the lease, the more respect you are showing them. In turn, this can determine how they handle you breaking the contract, such as potentially waving fines or penalties.
Thoroughly Read Your Lease Agreement
After you have spoken with your landlord, you need to pull out a copy of your apartment lease. Your contract may offer a rent-responsible clause or a buy-out clause, but some rental agreements offer no clauses.
These options detail how you can break your lease if they are included. Rent-responsible clause is when the tenant is responsible for paying rent until a replacement renter is found. The buy-out clause means that the tenant is going to need to pay extra money since you are breaking a binding contract.
A contract without a clause means that the landlord does not gave a clause for breaking a lease, which may or may not be helpful for the tenant, depending on the landlord or property owner.
While the ideal clause would be the rent-responsible clause, since the tenant is only responsible for paying rent until a new renter is found, the no clause has its benefits. Since there is no formal information on how to get out of a lease, your landlord may not be worried about finding a replacement tenant. Meaning if you give your landlord enough time, they may be willing to meet your requests when getting out of a lease.
Find Out if You have an Early Termination ClauseIf your rental lease does not have one of the above clauses, check to see if it has an early termination clause. The specifics of the clause will vary per landlord.
Generally, this type of clause allows the renter out of their rental agreement for personal reasons such as a job transfer, losing a job or for personal or family medical issues. If your rental lease has an early termination clause, make sure that you point it out to your landlord when you tell them that you are getting out of the lease agreement.
Look Into a Breach of Contact
Not all tenants who break a lease do so because they are moving or they can no longer afford the rent. Many tenants look into breaking a lease agreement if the property is no longer a safe and healthy environment.
For example, if a landlord neglects to replace broken appliances ignores maintenance fixes that he or she is legally bound to fix, tenants can potentially break their lease. If a landlord fails to keep the rental apartment in conditions as stated in the lease, this can be a breach of contract. While tenants may need to show proof of the neglect, like emails, photos or text messages, they will be breaking the lease without facing a penalty.
Find a Person to Sublet
Subletting is when someone temporary takes over your lease, but your name stays on the lease agreement. The person subletting sends the rent check to you, and then you send it directly to your landlord. While subletting sounds like a good idea, it is common for landlords to have clauses in rental leases that state there is no subletting. Even if your lease has a no-subletting clause, it is worth asking your landlord about this option to break the contract.
Offer to Forfeit Your Security Deposit
When you approach your landlord about getting out of your lease, be sure to tell them that you will forfeit your security deposit. While most tenants look forward to getting their security back at the end of a rental agreement, offering your landlord the security deposit can show your landlord that you respect them. Your security deposit can cover expenses of the rental unit until a new tenant moves in, or it can go towards repairs.
Offer to Help Clean and Paint
If you need to get out of a rental agreement, you can try to negotiate maintenance and help for unpaid rent. If you are handy, you can go so far as to offering to help fix broken or damaged equipment or furnishing around the rental unit. Alternatively, offering to clean and paint the apartment may help you convince your landlord to break the lease. Doing so not only gets the rental unit ready for the next tenant, but it can also help save your landlord the financial burden of unexpecting taking on these responsibilities.
Offer to Pay the Remaining Balance in Installments
If your landlord is threatening you with penalties for breaking your lease, offer to pay off the lease balance. Most people do not have extra money laying around to pay large sums for apartments that they no longer occupy, but you can ask your landlord if you can make installments for the money you owe. That way, your landlord is still getting their money, and you get out of the lease agreement.
Get Everything in Writing
Regardless if your landlord is responsive or nonresponsive when it comes to you getting out of your lease, make sure to get everything in writing. A verbal confirmation may sound promising, but it does not keep a creditor or debt collector from knocking on your door if you do not get the chances to your lease in writing. Otherwise, it will be your word against the property owner, and debt collectors or creditors will side with the landlord.