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Should I Sublet, Transfer, or Break My Lease?

If you need to get out of your lease early, then you'll have to decide between subletting, assigning, or breaking your lease. Each option has its own pros and cons.

This is the question you're probably asking yourself if you've decided to leave your apartment and don't want to be stuck paying rent for two places at once. The best option for you depends on what factors are most important to you—are you trying to save money, move fast, or minimize risk?

First—what is a sublet?

A sublet is a separate rental agreement between the leaseholder and a new renter. The subtenant pays rent to you and you continue paying rent to your landlord as you have been.

Landlords rarely charge extra fees and the approval process is usually very quick and easy. If they ask to see anything at all it will likely be some combination of your proposed sublet agreement and the identity, background, and employment information of your subtenant. The downside is that if your subletter ends up not paying rent, you're still on the hook for the money.

Subletting prosSubletting cons
Easier to get approvalYou're still on the lease
No extra feesMore risk of lost rent

What is a lease transfer?

A lease transfer is also known as a lease takeover or lease assignment. This is when a new renter signs an agreement that assigns your interest in the lease over to them. They'll be in a more formal relationship with your landlord and will pay them the rent for the remaining months left on your lease.

Related: What Goes in a Lease Assignment Agreement?

Since your assignee will effectively become the new tenant of record, they will need to pass the exact same rental application process that you went through. This means that your proposed replacement must meet the same income, credit, and other requirements that you met.

Provided that your landlord signs a lease release agreement, your relationship with the landlord ends and you are no longer responsible for paying the rent. Landlords often charge between $100 and $1000 for a lease assignment, and your approval process is exactly the same as when a renter applies for a new lease at your building.

Assignment prosAssignment cons
No more lease liabilityStrict requirements for new renter
You stop paying rent to the landlordExtra fees are likely

What is a lease break?

A lease break is a complete termination of your lease. Any new renter who wants your apartment will sign a new, traditional lease directly with the landlord. You no longer have any claim on the apartment, and you are no longer responsible for rent payments.

Your landlord may not allow you the lease break option and, if they do, you will likely have to pay a substantial lease termination fee.

Lease break prosLease break cons
No more lease liabilityMay not be possible
No need to find your own renterLarge lease break fee

What's the best option for me?

Which option you should choose depends on what you value most: time, money, or minimizing risk.

If you're making a decision based on time:

Your quickest option is a lease break. If they let you do it, it can happen immediately. The second-quickest option is a sublet. Getting approved is faster and easier and there are rarely extra fees.

The slowest option is an assignment. You will need to prepare a full application on your proposed assignee and work closely with your landlord to close the deal.

If you're making a decision based on risk:

The most risk-free option is a lease break. The lease contract will be voided, so there's no way you will still bear any responsibility. Subletting and assigning are often equally risky in that you may still be responsible for anything going wrong, depending on what is in your sublet agreement or assignment agreement.

If you're making a decision based on money:

The cheapest option is to sublet. Your rent will be covered and there are no extra fees. The second-cheapest option is to assign since your landlord might charge some kind of assignment fee. The most expensive option is a lease break.

You don't need to choose an arrangement yet. Instead, find a qualified renter or two and work with them (and your landlord) to decide which of these three options you want to go with.

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