To the dismay of many landlords, sometimes a lease has to be broken no matter how how many steps you take to avoid it. Although breaking a lease is never an ideal situation, it's important to be prepared in case this step is ever necessary with your own living situation. Or, if the situation is avoidable, this list can help you weigh the pros and cons of a couple of different routes you can take. So, for those considering breaking a lease, make sure you're aware of the three most important things you should know.
1. Be Honest
Believe it or not, most landlords aren't as merciless as they are depicted in the movies. In fact, they probably don't want to look for a new renter any more than you want to look for a new home, which means that they might be willing to work with you if your problems are solvable. For example, if you wanted to look for a new place because you can't afford your current home, your landlord might be willing to lower your rent payment. Or if you feel like the quality of the home inhibits your comfort, your landlord might be willing to undergo a few repairs and upgrades to make the home more livable.
2. Review the Lease
Most landlords anticipate renters breaking the lease at one point or another, so they often address this situation in the document itself. Before you break the news to your own landlord, make sure to review the terms of the lease so you know what to expect. The lease might indicate a fee for breaking your agreement early, or some additional consequences of this action. All in all, you want to make sure you and your landlord are on the same page, and since you signed the lease, you are rightfully held responsible for the stipulations therein.
3. Know Your Rights
Although breaking a lease without any repercussions is ideal, the situation can get messy. In these instances, you should know your rights and avoid as many penalties as possible. For example, if you are breaking the lease because you were called to active military duty, you are legally exonerated from penalties by the federal Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act. Serious damage to the apartment (not caused by you or a natural disaster) can also eliminate your lease responsibilities. Talk with a legal expert before you break the lease to see if your case qualifies as exceptional.
When it comes to breaking a lease, the stakes are high. A negative review from your landlord can seriously tank your credit and likely even prevent you from obtaining new lodging within a timely manner. If you find yourself in this sticky situation, make sure to take a minute to think before you act. Playing your cards carefully can turn a complicated situation into a simple and stress-free change.
Have you ever had to break a lease before? Share your experiences below!