The Ins and Outs of Breaking Your Lease

Career changes, sudden family emergencies or school requirements aren’t always the most convenient circumstances. In fact, many of these require individuals to completely move cities or even state lines to take care of business as needed, and if renting at the time, breaking the lease before the predetermined end date is necessary.

While you may face some financial repercussions, it’s best to act fast so you can retain some of the remaining rental dues on your lease and keep a positive reference from your current landlord. Failing to follow protocol could result in a negative renter reputation, possibly leading to denied applications in the future.

Follow these four steps to keep good rapport while ending your tenancy earlier than anticipated.


  1. Explain your situation

Rather than wait and let the situation become progressively worse, behaving in a proactive manner is the best way to dissolve stress on your end. In fact, one of the first things you should do after you receive final notice of a job offer or major life change involving relocation is to inform your current landlord so you can begin the move out process and start looking for a new rental in your next city. With ample notice, landlords can begin the advertising process to fill the unit in your absence. And, assuming property management secures new occupant(s) before next month’s rent, you escape monetary loss as it relates to the monthly rent or security deposit.


  1. Assist with advertising

Why not help the landlord fill your unit by simply subletting the apartment? To avoid any legal consequences or be forced to pay rent after you’ve moved out, you can pass the remainder of your lease onto another tenant. The sublet process and specific terms vary state by state, so completing your due diligence and researching online, or alternatively, consulting with a legal professional, bypasses potential legal ramifications. You should also inquire about the rules of subletting with your property manager or landlord prior to posting any advertisements online.


  1. Know your rights

Most states require landlords to put in effort to re-rent units if tenants are forced to move out early. Otherwise, they could sit back, relax and let apartments stay vacant while collecting steady income from past lessees. If you’re struggling to come to an agreement with your landlord – whether attempting to break your lease or find a subletter to take over the remainder of your tenancy – you might need to enlist the help of a legal professional.


  1. Be accommodating

While landlords advertise and show your unit, it’s smart to remain flexible. Keep the apartment regularly tidy so you aren’t scrambling to do any major chores right before a last minute showing. You’ll want your place to appear as attractive as possible so your landlord can fill your spot. Then, you aren’t responsible for rent any longer than you have to be. Although it may make your last few weeks uncomfortable, being on the ball is in your best interest. Even if your property manager doesn’t charge you rent after you vacate, he or she may still keep your security deposit. But, you might be able to receive your security deposit back if your unit is filled before next month’s rent is due and your landlord isn’t missing any payments.

Broken lease agreements are inconvenient for both landlords and tenants, but they occur frequently, so don’t become overwhelmed if you find yourself forced to move out of your rental early. As long as you inform your landlord as soon as possible and do your part to help fill the unit, your financial loss and renter profile should have minimal impact.