The Right Way to Break a Lease: 5 Rules for an Easier Exit

The Right Way to Break a Lease: 5 Rules for an Easier Exit

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Jennifer Hunter
Jul 1, 2015

Want to get out of your lease early? You need to play it smart. Whatever the reason you need to leave, we can help you navigate the tricky business of breaking your lease before things get ugly and expensive. Try these five things.

Put it in writing

A lease is a legal document so respond in kind and put every communication regarding that lease in writing. It will help make sure you have all the specifics straight as well as documenting the date of the communication (which could come in very handy if you need to take things to the next level, legally).

Be polite

Remember, your lease is a contract and you are asking to be let out of that contract so stay on everyone's good side if you possibly can. If your reasons for leaving are due to landlord neglect or other legal issues, we'll deal with that below, but we're all adults here. There's no excuse for not keeping things civil and professionally polite, and doing so will only help you in the long run.

Help replace yourself

When it comes to re-renting, you and your landlord are actually on the same team. You want to not live there anymore. Your landlord wants a good tenant asap. So do all you can to make you both happy and help get someone else moved in. If you love your apartment, this will be easy: gift your great place to a friend and deliver your landlord a new tenant on a silver platter (remember, your friend must meet all the same requirements you did in order to live there so choose carefully). Otherwise, help your landlord out in any way you can by making your home available to walk-throughs or helping advertise the vacancy through word of mouth.

(Image credit: Monica Wang)

Know your re-renting rights

Legally, you are responsible for the cost of your rent through the end of your lease; however your landlord must make a reasonable effort to get another tenant (check your state's laws below). It must be the right tenant (who meets the same requirements you did to qualify for the apartment), but your landlord can't just wait out your lease and expect you to pay your full lease amount.

Check your state's laws with this great guide from NOLO.

See if the law lets you leave

There are laws to protect renters who need to vacate a rental early. Military service members are legally allowed to break their leases with notice and many states also provide protection for those who need to relocate because of a job or a family emergency. Check your state above to make sure. If your landlord is not holding up his end of your rental agreement — providing habitable housing — you also are legally justified in leaving. Make sure to document everything so you have proof that you were in the right in the eyes of the law.

Well readers, how have you successfully left a rental early? Help us out!

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