The Right Way To Break An Apartment Lease When You Really Need To

There are many reasons one might want to break their rental agreement. You may have found your dream home on the market or lost your job and need to move closer to family. Maybe you got into a new grad program or simply want a change of scenery. With about 36% of the United States population bound by rental agreements and 2/3 of the under-35 population (via Pew Research), it's only natural that people become faced with the need to terminate their lease for one reason or another. But for many, the process is very intimidating, and they don't know where to start.

There is certainly a correct way to go about ending your lease early, and if done in the wrong manner, you may find yourself in a heap of legal trouble. Luckily, it is not as difficult as it seems to break your contract appropriately. It all begins with knowing your rights and the laws your state abides by.

When you can break a lease

Technically you are entitled to break a lease at any point in time that you desire, but only certain situations will allow you to do so without penalty. Military members who have been given orders to a location that is too far from their current residence to continue living there will be granted the ability to terminate their lease under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. This also covers any other legal dependents on the contract, including spouses. In some states like New York, senior citizens needing to enter a care facility will be eligible for breaking their rental agreement as well.

If a landlord or leasing company is violating your safety, they are in breach of contract, and you'll be well within your rights to discontinue the living situation. Some examples of hazardous conditions include black mold, exposed wiring, dysfunctional appliances, and bug infestations. If a property manager enters your home without the required notice and permission in the rental agreement, that is also grounds for termination. For anyone experiencing domestic violence, 41 states have statute laws that allow the affected persons to leave the residence without sanction.

How to break a lease

Good communication and research will be essential regardless of why you have decided to break your lease. You'll want to consult your state and local laws and clearly understand your and your landlord's rights. Reading through the fine print of your lease will also be crucial to have all the knowledge necessary to complete the termination. As you go into the conversation of ending your rental agreement, ensure you have all the needed documentation and that all agreements are in writing. If you are breaking your lease for military orders, you should have a copy. If you are leaving due to safety issues, you'll want tangible documentation to ensure you are legally covered.

When terminating your agreement without legal protection, you'll have to pay a fine, which is usually outlined in your lease. If you refuse to pay what is asked, your landlord can take legal action against you, and your credit and rental history will take a hit. You can always consider finding a sublet to take over the remainder of your lease, but be sure to look into your state's laws regarding the matter. Along with all the legal proceedings that go into vacating a property, common courtesy is vital. Leave the place in good condition, provide as much notice as possible, and be kind in your approach. Future renters typically reach out to your past landlords, and you'll want them to verify that you were a good tenant.