When you sign a lease agreement, most likely you’ll be signing on for a set period of time, such as six months or one year. That means you’ll have to stay on for this amount of time or risk breaking your lease.
While many people do intend to stay long-term in their apartments or homes (after all, moving all the time can be costly) there are some unforeseen circumstances where you might be forced to break your lease before it us up, such as illness, job loss or other emergencies. If you absolutely have to break your lease agreement, here are some of the things you should consider.
Before you try breaking your lease, there may be other things you can do first. You can ask your landlord if you can transfer the lease to someone you know (and have them move in and pay off the remaining rent for the lease term) or find a sub letter, who will be your responsibility for the time of the lease. In many cases, landlords hate breaking lease agreements because they don’t want to lose the income from the rent and/or don’t want to be bothered with having to look for tenants. If you make it as easy as possible for them, you may be able to get out of your lease unscathed.
Circumstances When You Can Legally Break Your Lease
There are three main circumstance wherein you can break your lease without penalty:
1) If the apartment or whom suffers serious damage through natural disasters, crime or other instances through no fault of your own.
2) If you suffer serious health issues which require you to live in an assisted living facility.
3) If you are called into active military duty after you’ve signed your lease
In these three cases, you can legally break the lease and your landlord cannot go after you for penalties.
If your landlord has been deficient in his or her duties, then you can also break your lease since he or she is not keeping up their end of the bargain. For example, if you’ve repeatedly sent requests for repairs and they ignore you, or if they’re supposed to pay for the utilities but haven’t (or have been keeping the payment for themselves if you give it to them) then you have just cause to break your lease. Make sure you keep good records (like written or e-mailed requests for repairs, etc.) so you can make your case, in the event that you have to go to small claims court or have been served with other legal documents and actions.
If you just want to break your lease because you want to move somewhere else, because you can’t pay or perhaps going through a divorce or separation, you may find it harder to break your lease. However, first talk to your landlord and offer the aforementioned alternatives, that way you can have a peace of mind when you coordinate other aspects of your move like locating moving companies.