A lease break is when your landlord agrees to terminate your lease completely and signs a new lease with a new renter. You no longer have any claim on the apartment, and you are no longer responsible for rent payments.
Is my landlord required to let me break my lease?
Probably not. This is one of the biggest misconceptions renters have. A lease is a contract, meaning that it's designed to be hard to get out of—unless both sides agree. In most cases, your landlord is not required to let you break your lease. For this reason, landlords usually charge high fees in exchange for letting you break the lease. These fees range from one to three months' rent.
That said, there are a handful of situations where the law allows you to break your lease without your landlord’s agreement. The rules vary between states, but often cover victims of domestic violence, members of the military who have been deployed elsewhere, and, in a few instances, senior citizens relocating to an assisted living facility. Also, if your landlord has allowed your rental to become unlivable—either because they won’t make repairs or repeatedly harass you—then there’s a chance you can also break your lease without penalty.
What should I do if I need to break my lease?
If your situation isn’t covered by state law—for instance, you need to break your lease because you got a new job out of state, or you want to move closer to your girlfriend—you should start by reading your lease. Some landlords outline their policy on lease breaks there. Otherwise, start a conversation with your landlord. Explain your situation and ask them if they have a process for lease breaks. Remember that they aren’t legally required to let you out of the lease early, so you should try and make a solid case for why you need to leave. You should also send a lease termination letter that informs your landlord you're hoping to move out early.
What happens if I break my lease?
Here are the steps involved for breaking a lease. First, you ask your landlord to terminate early and they tell you how much of a fee they'll charge for breaking the lease. Second, you'll sign a release agreement or termination agreement with them. Third, you'll need to move out by the date specified in the agreement and leave your keys behind.
Are there any alternatives to breaking my lease?
So, you’ve talked to your landlord—and they aren’t willing to agree to a lease break. Luckily, you have a few other options: subletting or assigning the lease to another qualified tenant. There are pros and cons to both, and your choice will depend on what your priorities are.
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.