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How to Transfer Your Lease to a New Tenant

If you need to get out of a lease, one of your options is to find a qualified tenant that wants to sign on for the remaining months.

When you find someone to take over your lease, you are transferring (or "assigning") the remainder of your lease term to them. You leave permanently. In most cases, your liability under the terms of the lease is completely transferred to the new tenant.

Carefully review the lease assignment agreement that your landlord asks you to sign. It may contain a term that continues to hold you responsible if your assignee defaults.

A lease transfer may not be the best way depending on your situation—make sure to read up on your different options before you start the lease transfer process. The below steps walk you through exactly what needs to happen in order to transfer a lease from one renter to another.

1. Know where your stand

Before you begin the lease transfer process it's a good idea to read up on local laws so that you know what your rights are - and what your landlord is and isn't allowed to say in response to your lease assignment request.

For example, if state law requires your landlord to mitigate damages caused by unpaid rent then your landlord is obligated to accept your assignee—as long as he or she is as financially qualified as you.

For example: imagine that you're paying $1,000 per month in rent, and there are six months left on your lease. If you want to leave early, then you're responsible for $6,000 in damages. By finding a renter who wants to take over the remaining six months on your lease, then you're giving your landlord an opportunity to avoid those damages. In this situation, the landlord is required to let you market your rental and accept any qualified renters you present them with.

2. Check your landlord's policies

If your building is professionally managed, then there might be existing policies in place for renters looking to assign. You'll want to figure out if there are any required forms for assignments, where you should send the assignee's application, if there will be a rent increase, and if they charge an additional fee.

There are two ways to check your landlord's policies. Start by searching your lease for an assignment term - it will likely tell you that you're allowed to transfer your lease with landlord approval - and may include additional instructions. You should also contact your landlord (or leasing agent or property manager) and ask them what their policies are.

3. Find a replacement tenant

Create an advertisement for your listing. List the rent, the number of months left on the lease, and include as many photos as possible. Make sure to specify that you're looking for someone to take over the remainder of your lease.

4. Make sure the potential tenant is qualified

If you send someone to your landlord as your replacement and they don't qualify, then you've wasted everyone's time. Review your applicant's income, credit score, identity, criminal history, and rental history first. They must be as qualified as you in terms of credit score and income.

5. Prepare an assignment agreement

Probably the most common misconception about a lease assignment is that you're completely off the hook. In actuality, you're only off the hook entirely if your agreement includes a clause that specifically releases you. Otherwise, you will be expected to return if the assignee stops paying the rent, kick them out yourself, and start living there again.

To make sure your legal agreement includes the right clauses, make an airtight assignment agreement and sign it with your assignee before sending it to your landlord.

Put the rental application and the assignment agreement into an email and send it to your landlord. You can also include a cover letter describing what you are asking for in detail. The letter should reference any relevant state laws.

A lease assignment agreement should always have a clause that releases you from the lease. This means that if your assignee flakes or defaults, you will not be expected to return and deal with the situation.

7. Execute your agreement

Make sure that you and your landlord both sign the assignment agreement. Provide them with a copy and save your own. Now you can move out!

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.