If you’re reading this, circumstances in your life have changed since signing your lease and you’re wondering what you need to do to get out of it. And I’m sorry to report the answer is, “It depends.” Laws are different from state to state and city to city, so make sure you know what your rights are at that particular property. The first place to start is reading your lease and seeing if there are any termination clauses and what the consequences are if you do decide to break the lease.
Typically, there are a few valid reasons to break a lease. They include the property not living up to its end of the contract (i.e. the conditions are bad, unsafe, and health codes are being broken), you are called to active military duty, or your property manager violates your right to privacy and enters your apartment without permission.
If you don’t meet those criteria, there’s still hope. You can talk to your manager to see if arrangements can be made to break the lease early. If that doesn’t work and your lease allows it, you can find someone to sublet your apartment. This will give that individual the opportunity to see if they like the apartment before committing to it long term.
If you do end up breaking the lease, make sure you give the property as much notice as possible so they can be prepared for your departure. Let them know why you plan on terminating the lease, when your desired move out date, and anything else you think is important for the property to know. The best way to do this is provide written notice to the property manager either through letter or email.
Giving notice will provide proof of your intent and the reasons you plan to break the lease, whatever they may be, and initiate the process and help move things forward.
Contracts can be hard to interpret even for seasoned legal professionals and even harder for those not well versed in contract law. A lawyer can help you come up with a list of all your options and what the consequences may be, whether that be forfeiting your lease, paying off a portion of the remaining owed rent, or having your credit adversely impacted.
It’s important to keep written documentation of all communications with management, what was discussed, and what was decided upon. This will make it harder for the property to back out on agreements they made with you as it relates to breaking your lease.