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Information About Breaking a Lease Agreement

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There are a number of reasons to want to break a lease agreement. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to do that without having to pay a penalty that's spelled out in the lease agreement. You could be required to pay a month or more of rent, give up your damage deposit or both. That makes it very important to understand all the terms and conditions in your lease agreement before signing. If you have financial issues or got a new job on the other side of town or out of state, here are some ways to break a lease agreement that could save you some money.

  • Talk to your landlord. Most experts say that the best course of action is simply to talk to your landlord to see if any compromise can be worked out. If you signed a year's lease that says you must pay two month's rent and forfeit your damage deposit if you break the lease, offer to pay something and see how the landlord reacts. This is the time you'll realize it's to your benefit to pay on time, keep your apartment clean and maintain a good relationship with your landlord. If you've done that, it's possible you'll get some leniency.
  • Sublet the apartment. It can also help if you offer to find someone to take over the apartment for the remaining months of your lease. Don't just find someone and put them in the apartment without telling the landlord. Remember that you signed that contract, so the responsibility remains yours. Even if the landlord can no longer find you, he or she can report you running off without handling your responsibilities to the three national credit bureaus and that can cause you some significant problems for years.
  • Anything wrong with the apartment? Of course, if there were any significant, genuine issues with the apartment, you probably would have already raised them. However, a landlord's obligations include providing an apartment as promised in the lease - and continuing to provide a livable apartment. A significant termite problem, for example, could be a way to break a lease agreement. Be sure to check with a lawyer trained in this area of the law.
  • Join the military. A harsh way to break a lease agreement for some, but there are laws that require landlords, in most situations, to allow members of the military to come and go in response to active duty callouts without enforcing penalty clauses in leases.
  • Pay the money. Finally, you can pay whatever penalty is set out in the lease and learn from the experience. Remember that when you sign a lease agreement, any clause in that agreement can be modified or additional language can be added - as long as the landlord is willing to do so. You may want to consider trying to negotiate a less costly option for the clause in the lease about what happens if a tenant breaks a lease agreement. Or, you can go on a month-by-month basis to avoid having to break a lease agreement. Yearlong leases are preferred by landlords because they provide stability and they are also good for tenants because they guarantee rent will not increase during that period of time.

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