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What to Do If You Need to Break A Lease

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Apartment renters may need to break a lease on occasion – it happens: a new job pops up, a soldier is called away to duty, a family emergency causes a sudden need for a move, or perhaps the apartment is in an undesirable neighborhood or comes with undesirable neighbors. For whatever reason, if you find yourself in this position here are a few helpful tips on what to do if you need to break your lease.

Review Your Lease Contract

Before you speak with your landlord, review your lease contract to identify your legal obligations. Does the lease offer any ‘escape clauses’ for specific situations – such as military duty – which have lead up to the break of the lease? Had the landlord continued to break obligations in the lease – such as apartment maintenance or repairs – which are prompting your early termination of the lease? Are you legally required to inform the landlord if you vacate the apartment early? Once you are sure of your rights and responsibilities, and your landlord’s rights and responsibilities, you can discuss the best way to break a lease with your landlord.

Talk With Your Landlord

Always talk with your landlord as soon as possible once it becomes apparent that you must break your lease. The sooner you talk with your landlord the better. Your landlord may be able to provide you with alternatives that can save you both time and money – and your landlord may cut you a little slack if you are upfront and honest about your situation.

Try To Find Another Renter

The best solution when you need to break a lease is to find another renter – with your landlord’s prior permission. You may need to sacrifice your last month’s rent or deposit as an incentive for a free ‘move-in’ for the next renter, and you may need to cover the cost of any classified ads used to locate another tenant – but these expenses can save you from being held responsible for the remainder of your lease period rents.

Follow-up On the Rental

In most states, once a landlord finds another tenant the previous renter, who broke the lease, is released from any financial obligations for the monthly rent. If you are unable to find another tenant before you have to leave, ask a neighbor or friend to keep an eye on the apartment and to let you know when it is rented. While most landlords will inform tenants who broke a lease when the apartment is rented, it never hurts to be one-hundred percent sure that you will know when the apartment is occupied again.

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