Breaking a Lease

Are you looking to break a lease on your current living situation? With any contract, when you decide to breach there is always a list of terms and conditions that you have to abide by that are stated in the contract. Your lease is a binding contract that you have signed between you and the landlord of a property. There are several reasons why you may need to break your lease and there are several steps of action that you can take to make sure you are covered.

Before making the decision to break your lease, make sure you read your agreement that you set forth with your landlord. There are normally costs associated with breaking a lease before the end of the agreement and understanding what you are responsible for is important.

Conditions on Breaking Your Lease

There are unavoidable circumstances that may allow you to break your lease without incurring a penalty. Below are a few situations that will allow you to confidently break your lease:

  • Your home is unsafe- In most cases, if your household has been broken in to or there has been illegal activity, most landlords will allow you to break your lease deeming it an unsafe place to live.
  • Damaged Home- If your landlord fails to repair or maintain your apartment causing your home “unlivable”. Damage to your home may not be at the fault of you but through natural causes. Some agreements specify an allotted window for landlords to repair your home before you are able to cancel the agreement. Examples of damaged home are water leaks, mold, which are considered inhabitable living conditions.
  • Called to Active Duty-If you are active in the military and have to be relocated, by law you are allowed to break your lease without penalty under the federal Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act.
  • Serious health reasons- Some states will allow you to get out of your lease if you have come ill and need to leave the apartment. Review your lease agreement and check with state laws to find out more information.

Subletting Your Apartment

Before incurring any cost of breaking your lease, try reaching out to family and friends to see if they or someone they know may be looking to move. If you are unable to find someone, placing an ad in the classifieds will help with the process. Depending on the terms of the agreement, most leases allow you to sublet your space with permission from the landlord. First things first, check your lease agreement.

Inform Your Landlord

Inform you landlord that you plan on moving out at your earliest convenience. Most landlords request a 60-90 day written notice that you will not being renewing your lease. Make sure to have your landlord sign the termination notice for your records. Explain that you will be vacating the property on this date and would like to perform a walkthrough to finalize the process. Make sure to take pictures of each room for your records.

Although you might have given an advanced notice, it doesn’t make you exempt from penalties against your contract. In most cases, this gives the landlord enough time to find another tenant as soon as you are moved out. Most states require landlords to make a reasonable attempt to re-rent your apartment given a suitable notice better known as “Mitigating damages”.

Facing Penalty

If you decide to break your lease, understand that there could possibly be penalty. The chance of you getting out of a lease without penalty or slim but it is also important to know that you want to at least limit how much you end up paying. Whatever the terms of agreement are for your lease, be prepared to face penalty charges or even worse, taken to court. Some lease agreements require you to pay a penalty fee, remaining months rent at market price value, and also the possibility of losing your security deposit.

Whether you have a valid reason for breaking your lease or not, taking proper steps can save you time, money and a headache. Before you decide to pack up and leave, understand your agreement and the consequences of breaking the lease if necessary.