How do I break my lease?
Since your Lease Agreement is a contract, the first thing to do is read it. Contracts, and Lease Agreements in particular, often explain what happens when someone wants to end the contract. It often involves paying an early termination fee or forfeiting your security deposit, although you may be able to avoid that if you work with your landlord.
If you and your landlord have a good relationship, you may want to propose a Lease Amendment to modify the terms of the lease rather than ending the lease altogether. Some modifications may include altering the lease term, removing penalties for early lease termination if 30 days notice is provided, or allowing a Lease Assignment. You may also suggest an Agreement to Cancel Lease if your landlord is agreeable. Being flexible on your timing, offering to leave the unit move-in ready, or even offering to help with showing the unit to prospective tenants before you move out can often help when negotiating an early termination with your landlord.
If there is still time left on your lease, you may still be responsible for rent during the remainder of your lease term. You may be on the hook for the entire time listed in the lease, unless you tell your landlord that you are moving out. A Notice to Terminate Tenancy allows you to record the date and your reasons for leaving. When sending the notice to your landlord, you may want to be mindful of any required notice period within your lease terms, or what your state or local laws say. If you plan to terminate your lease in this way, it can be helpful to discuss the risks with a lawyer.
It is worth noting that since many leases renew automatically, if you are on a Month-to-Month Lease or near the end of a one or two year lease, it can be a good idea to send your landlord a Notice of Intent to Move. After sending the notice, you may want to confirm dates for a walk-through inspection and to return the keys.
What parts of a lease require my attention?
Your Lease Agreement may directly explain what may happen if you end the lease early, or vacate with or without notice. Before moving out or signing a new lease, check your current Lease Agreement for any cancellation or termination terms. If cancellation, termination, or ending the lease early is discussed, check for any agreed upon fees and notice periods. Your landlord may be willing to waive fees if you ask before giving them notice.
If your lease does not contain clear cancellation or termination terms, it may have other sections that apply. If there is nothing in lease about ending it, or you do not have a written agreement with your landlord, you may want to ask a lawyer about your state and local laws.
Some leases may allow subleasing. If your lease does, you may want to consider subletting your unit for the remainder of your lease. Making a Sublease Agreement with a subtenant may help you complete the terms of your lease. It is important to check your lease before offering a sublease, and you may want to talk to a lawyer about your obligations and to review your agreement. Many leases require written Consent to Sublease from the landlord.
Need help breaking your lease?
It is always a good idea to get legal advice if you decide to break a lease, especially if your lease terms are complex. Taking a few proactive steps may lead to significant cost savings. If you have more questions about getting out of a Lease Agreement or rental, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer network attorney for affordable legal advice.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.