5 Things to Do If You Need Someone to Take Over Your Lease ASAP

published Feb 17, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

Maybe you’re considering a new job in a new city. Or perhaps you’re flirting with the idea of buying a house, moving in with a significant other, or adopting a dog who deserves a backyard. There might be one thing that’s holding you back—the ol’ ball and chain known as your lease.

Breaking a lease can cost you big bucks—we’re talking fees that amount to a few months’ worth of rent. But if you can find a qualified renter to take over your apartment’s lease, you may be off the hook from fees.

Here are real estate experts’ best tips for finding someone to take over your lease, and how to do so quickly.

First, talk to your landlord 

Giving your landlord or property management company a heads up is the absolute first thing you should do if you need someone to take over your lease. This actually could go more smoothly than you might expect, says Jamie Safier, a New York City real estate agent at Douglas Elliman. “If you’re renting somewhere that has seen a sudden uptick in rental prices, (your landlord) might actually be happy you’re leaving earlier than expected, since it will allow them to find a new tenant and raise the rent,” she says.

Host an open house

Again, honesty is the best policy when it comes to lease takeovers, so the key to this is working in conjunction with your landlord to find a well-qualified replacement tenant. The biggest expense for your landlord is filling that vacancy, explains Rick Albert, a broker with Lamerica Real Estate in Los Angeles. Let your landlord know you’re looking to find a subletter, and be sure they’re open to it before finding a qualified renter. While every situation is different, you—the tenant—can do the showings and then the landlord can do the background check and meet the prospective tenant replacement if they wish.

Instead of booking individual showings, a group showing during a set window of time may be your most efficient route, Albert says. He offers this anecdote: Out of 46 inquiries, he scheduled 16 showings, but only two people showed up. “This is common and a huge complaint from landlords that I know,” he says. Facebook Marketplace can be a great place to drum up interest in your rental, Albert adds.

Post about it

Start by reaching out to your social circle via social media, suggests New York real estate agent Nadine Adamson with Brown Harris Stevens. But don’t overlook boards at your work, school, or even apartment, she says. It’s worth checking to see if your current roommate has potential renters in mind. Websites and apps like Flip and leasebreak can also help match lease breaks with short-term tenants. 

Treat this like a sales job

Finding a replacement for your lease not only requires good marketing, but a solid sales pitch. To get this right, go beyond the rentals’ features and focus on benefits, says real estate consultant Justin Pogue, a longtime property manager and the author of Rental Secrets. For example, perhaps the selling point is the in-unit washer and dryer. The added benefit is, say, having the convenience of being able to work from home and do laundry at the same time, he says.

Ask your real estate agent for help

If you need to break a lease because you’re looking to buy a home or you’re about to close on a mortgage, loop your real estate agent into the process. Your realtor may be able to help you negotiate fees or penalties you may incur, says Jason Stockwell, an agent at RE/MAX Results in Richfield, Minnesota. It’s possible your agent already has a relationship with your landlord or property management company, or he or she has a pool of renters who’d be willing to take over your lease. Oftentimes real estate agents will have clients who want to sign a lease while they’re waiting for their new home to be built.

Sure, you may be the near-perfect tenant (and hard to replace), but keeping these tips in mind will help you drum up a pool of qualified renters.