The Process of Breaking an Apartment Lease

break lease

A lease is a contract that allows you to live in a specific place for an agreed upon duration of time and price. Leases get tricky because they are legally-binding. While everyone pays rent month by month, that does not mean everyone’s lease is month to month. When you sign a lease, you agree to pay twelve months rent in total. There are many worthy reasons to break a lease, unfortunately most will leave you with a penalty fee(s) of a sort.

Why Your Penalized

Since a lease is a legally binding contract, there are consequences for breaking it. If you have to break your lease, the best thing you can do is try to minimize the penalty from your landlord. It may be super awkward, but you might as well try negotiating with your landlord on the penalty fee to keep some cash in your wallet.

Least Likely to be Penalized

There are a few, clear reasons to break your lease where you should not fear a penalty. If you have to break your lease, do your best to give your landlord as much time as possible. There are a handful of reasons to break a lease that does not qualify a penalty: Should your apartment acquire damage, by nature or criminal, to the extent where you can no longer live in it, being called to active-duty military service, and a medical condition or injury that requires you to move into an assisted living facility. Each state has their own laws of accepted reasons to break a lease without a penalty. Be sure to research your individual state’s laws before attempting to break your lease.

Some Chance of Being Penalized

If your landlord does not repair or maintain your apartment unit as required by the lease, you are able to break the lease without paying a penalty. Additionally, if your landlord invades your privacy or does not provide quiet enjoyment of your apartment, you are able to break the lease. These reasons will not be as easy to evade a lease breaking penalty, but if you document every detail correctly, it will aid you in the event that you must attend court.

Greatest Chance of Penalty

Most people have an understandable reason for breaking their lease, however, this does not change the fact that they still face a penalty. Some normal reasons to break a lease include moving for a job, getting married, or having children. While these are valid reasons to break a lease, you are not protected from being penalized. To make the situation simple for everyone, inform your landlord you will be leaving as soon as you can. If you can find a tenant to replace you, your landlord might reward you by not penalizing you. At the end of the day, the landlord makes their money off their tenants. If you provide a tenant to replace you for the landlord, they do not have to do any work to replace their “lost” income, and therefore really have no reason to penalize you. This does not guarantee a penalty-free lease break, but if you scratch their back, why should they not scratch yours? Your landlord is required by law to fill the apartment once you give them notice, so you get off easy by only having to pay for one or two months’ rent until a new tenant takes over your spot.


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