Learn how to get out of a lease that isn’t working for you anymore
Most people sign a lease agreement feeling hopeful and excited about living in their new home or apartment. Typically, the idea is to enjoy a lease term of at least a year. However, sometimes a rental property or the landlord/tenant relationship isn’t what it seemed at first. Rental trends tend to change in response to the market. What is a normal rent increase for some people may not be for you. So, how do you break a lease? In other cases, a sudden life change might mean that the lease just won’t work anymore. If you’re experiencing any of these situations, you’re probably wondering how to get out of a lease early.
Similar to a car lease or a commercial lease, it can be hard to get out of a current home or apartment lease. While every state has different landlord-tenant laws, we have a general guide that will answer the question, “How do I break a lease?” Read on to learn about the basics of how to break lease legally and early lease termination and some of your basic tenant rights.
What is an apartment lease?
When you sign a lease, you’ve agreed to a legally binding contract between you and your landlord. Typically, the term of your rental agreement will be one year. However, leases can be shorter or longer, which is why we recommend looking into how to find short term rentals. While you can often renew your lease contract, it can be a bit more difficult getting out of lease before it’s over.
How can I legally go about breaking a lease early?
Every state has different regulations under the landlord tenant law regarding legally ending a lease, however, many will allow residents to break their lease early if the apartment is deemed not habitable or safe. So, how can you get out of a lease early? For example, if property management neglects needed repairs such as heat or running water or you’ve experienced landlord harassment, a tenant may be able to legally break their lease without any penalties.
Even if you had the best intentions when you signed your lease, you might find it’s necessary to break your rental agreement. Sometimes, you can explain your situation to your landlord, and he or she won’t penalize you for breaking lease agreements without legal justification.
It’s not always this easy to get out of your lease, though. Breaking lease agreements without legal grounds can sometimes lead to consequences that can include paying your remaining rent and being subject to legal action. As a result, you’ll want to know the different ways to legally get out of your lease by seeking legal advice from a lawyer.
Here are the steps you need to take:
- Your first step should be reading your rental agreement to learn about your lease obligations.
- Pay close attention to see if your lease includes an early termination clause or a subletting clause.
- You should also keep your eyes peeled for words like “early release,” “sublease” and “sublet.” You’ll want to read these relevant sections closely.
- For example, your rental lease might require you to give advance written notice of your intention to vacate or to find a new tenant to take your place.
- You might also find that your residential rental lease will let you terminate it if you pay an early termination fee or surrender your security deposit.
How can you break a lease without paying?
Now that you know you can typically get out of a lease if you essentially pay a penalty, you might be wondering whether it’s possible to do it for free. Often, you can if you “mitigate the damages” of a broken lease by finding a replacement tenant. You can do this by either subletting or re-renting your apartment.
Subletting is when you or your landlord find someone who will take over your lease for the rest of the fixed term. However, it is important to remember that it is also different from a lease buyout and definitely much cheaper. The replacement renter will sign a sublease agreement, but the agreement will still be under your name. You can think of this as a lease transfer to a prospective tenant. This means you’re still legally responsible for any damage or unpaid rent payment during the tenancy. You also won’t get your security deposit back until the end of the lease term.
Re-renting is when you or your landlord find a new tenant who will sign a new lease agreement. They’ll pay their own security deposit.
You may also be able to get out of a lease without paying a penalty if your landlord or your property manager fails to maintain the property. Your apartment must be fit and habitable, which means it must be clean and well-maintained. It must also have heat and running water and adhere to all health and safety codes.
When a property isn’t maintained and the original tenant can’t use and enjoy the space, it is called constructive eviction. If this sounds like your situation, you should explore the legal options in your state for terminating your lease.
What makes a lease null and void?
Another way that you can get out of a lease without paying any money is to have the contract declared null and void. Most of the time, a lease is void if it is fraudulent or signed under duress (being forced to sign a lease).
Additionally, your lease may be null and void if your rental unit is considered illegal in your state. For example, in some states, basement apartments are illegal. As a result, a lease for such an apartment would be null and void. Seek legal advice from an attorney to discuss your options.
You can enjoy flexible lease terms in a beautiful coliving space
If you don’t want to live with the stresses of a rigid lease agreement, we offer furnished, coliving spaces with short term leases that can be a great option. With these short term leases and easy transfers, you won’t stress about a strict lease obligation, a lost rent payment, and won’t need to worry about how much it costs to furnish an apartment! Whether you’re looking for a new place, or you’re moving out of your parents’ house and learning how to live on your own, you can enjoy living in the city for an attainable price. Explore our coliving spaces today!