Life changes at lightning speed. One decision that seems ideal at one time can easily shift to a mistake that you must rectify or a choice that no longer works with your lifestyle. Change brings decisions you must make without the same considerations with which you originally started. For example, you moved into an apartment and signed a lease, fully expecting to ride through the specified terms without a break. What happens, though, if your current job wants you to relocate, you meet the person of your dreams or a whole host of other possibilities pop up, causing you to leave your current home? If you need to break your apartment lease, follow these instructions for a kinder, gentler break-up.
Review Your Lease Agreement
Before making any rash decisions, evaluate if you really need to break the lease or can hang in there until the period is over. Then dig up the lease agreement and review the terms. There should be a detailed section, states US News and World Report’s article, that denotes what can happen when you break the lease and if indeed you can walk away unscathed. Could you possibly follow the rules like offering notice of intent to vacate, to your landlord or is there an “opt-out” clause? What consequences like paying the remaining rent could occur? No matter what type of landlord you have, knowing the rules of your lease ahead of time will allow you to make a stronger argument for leaving and what you need to do to avoid any legal entanglements.
Discuss With Your Landlord
Keeping your landlord in the loop is key to exiting gracefully and seeing if you can forge an agreement about leaving. Meet up with the person to discuss why you need to leave and if you are required to find someone to either sublet your place or start a new lease. You may be required to pay leftover rent or fork over other fees for their time and trouble in you vacating the residence before the lease is up. If your landlord is reasonable, you may be able to negotiate to leave without additional fees or hard feelings.
According to US News and World Report, there are circumstances where the landlord may not have a leg to stand on if you leave early: an uninhabitable place; military summons; or debilitating illnesses or injuries. Further your research by investigating what your individual state’s laws mandate. Rent.com recommends finding out if there are tenants’ unions in your area who will assist you in figuring out the local laws as well as mediating between you and negotiating with your landlord. For further assistance, you may also want to consult a lawyer if things start getting hairy and time (but not your lease) is running out.
Leave a Paper Trail
As with any legal contract and/or negotiation, ensure you have written proof and documentation that what was discussed was agreed upon by both parties. In other words, show your work! The conversation only goes so far, but e-mails, paperwork, and letters will prove that you discussed terms with your landlord and, hopefully, came to a reasonable agreement about you vacating the premises. If the communication was contentious, you also have a record of that in case the situation succumbs to a court case or some other type of mediation.