Breaking a Lease or Rental Agreement
Are you looking to break a lease on your current living situation? When you decide to breach any contract, there is always a list of terms and conditions that you have to abide by that is stated in the agreement. Your lease is a binding contract you have signed between you and the landlord of a property. There are several reasons 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 breaking your lease, make sure you read the agreement you set forth with your landlord. There usually are costs associated with breaking a lease before the end of the contract, and understanding what you are responsible for is essential.
Conditions on Breaking Your Agreement
There are unavoidable circumstances that may allow you to break your lease without incurring a penalty. Below are a few situations that will enable you to confidently break your lease:
- Your home is unsafe- In most cases, if your household has been broken into 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 to be “unlivable.” Damage to your home may not be at your fault but through natural causes. Some agreements specify an allotted window for landlords to repair your home before you can cancel the deal. Examples of damaged houses are water leaks and mould, considered inhabitable living conditions.
- Called to Active Duty-If, you are active in the military. You 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 or Office
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 cannot 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 your landlord that you plan on moving out at your earliest convenience. Most landlords request a 60-90 day written notice that you will not be 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 advanced notice, it doesn’t make you exempt from penalties against your contract. In most cases, this provides the landlord with 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 proper notice, better known as “Mitigating damages.”
If you decide to break your lease, understand that there could be a penalty. The chance of you getting out of a lease without penalty or slim, but it is also essential to know that you want to at least limit how much you end up paying. Whatever the terms of an agreement are for your lease, be prepared to face penalty charges or, even worse, be taken to court. Some lease agreements require you to pay a penalty fee, the remaining month’s rent at market price value, and 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.