What if I need to break my lease?

While most of our blogs are geared at landlords and property management, we also get a lot of people seeking information from the tenant perspective. In that spirit, from time to time, we offer worthwhile information that concerns that segment of the population. This is one of those times.

Need to Break Your Lease? Here’s what you should know.

Life always throws the unexpected at us and more often than not we are not prepared for it. So what happens when you are forced into breaking a legally binding contract, like your rental agreement on a lease?

Let’s say you moved in and signed your lease agreement just barely 3 months ago. Everything is fantastic, rent is sensibly priced, and located in an exceptional area. Then you get the surprise, either the loss or sickness of a loved one or a promotion or relocation in your employment. Now what becomes of that legal contract you signed?

All rental agreements, whether the lease be a one-month or a 1-year, are legally binding. Meaning that you can and most likely will be still held financially responsible for the loss of rent for the duration of the contract. However, as gritty as that sounds, it doesn’t always have to  end still costing you or having to obtain legal representation.

Most times the first best thing you can do is to go over your rental agreement with your landlord or property manager and read through the terms of agreement. More often than not there is an opt-out clause that can be utilized for the benefit of you both with an agreed upon fee.

Discussing the situation openly and honestly with your property manager is the best way to show your understanding of the problem and your willingness to help rectify it. Also offering to help find another tenant to take over the lease for the remaining months or a new one altogether may be a good idea as well.  Tenants will often explore sub-leasing scenarios as well.  Just be sure to check your lease agreement as some explicitly disallow any sub-leasing.

Offering to market and pay for the opening of the home is also another way to help find new tenants. Using newspapers or even webpages such as Craigslist is a good way to bring in prospective renters. Always make sure potential tenants will meet the property manager’s requirements before getting them involved as to not waste time.
While there are some occasions where you honestly just can’t get out of paying large amounts for breaking your lease agreement, there are still some things you can attempt to do lessen the stress of it all. For you and for the landlords. Just remember to be open and cooperative with your property managers so everyone involved can be satisfied.

No property manager or landlord wants to have a tenant break their lease.  It can be costly and a hassle.  However, it happens, and it’s generally better for managers to try and be accommodating to some degree rather than taking the chances of a tenant deciding not to pay and ending up in an eviction process.

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Kurt Kroeck

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By Kurt Kroeck

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