Peak Moving Season just ended (May 15-August 31), a time when more than 65% of the year’s moves occur. Although you may have just spent months planning and preparing to move in to a new home or apartment, sometimes life throws a curve ball and you have a sudden need to get out of that lease you just signed.
Even if your reason feels valid – landing a dream job or a surprise pregnancy that causes the need for a larger space – your landlord will likely not let you out of the lease without penalty. However, there are sometimes loop holes to get around this.
Unpakt , a comparison pricing site and online booking tool for consumers searching for a reputable moving company, has provided five helpful tips if you really need to get out of your lease and move (again)!:
1. Find Something Wrong – Depending on how thorough your landlord and/or leasing company was, this might prove an extremely difficult task. If your landlord has always fixed problems promptly, and you have no documented complaints, then even your lawyer may tell you there is no way you are getting out without penalty. However, if he promised to install a fence last summer, add more insulation before the winter, or get you new carpet and never followed through, then you may have a case. If you have had problems with a neighbor being disruptive and the landlord has done nothing to intervene, you may have a valid reason that will hold up in court. Obviously, if there is something seriously wrong with the property and the landlord has not fixed it, then you have the legal right to vacate without penalty.
2. Review Contract for Termination Clause – If you are not comfortable reviewing your lease, contact someone at your local tenant’s rights organization or local legal aid office. You may be panicking for nothing. Many landlords today add an early termination clause in their lease to make it fair for the tenant; this decreases the risk of dealing with a huge surprise when they find a tenant simply vanished. Your lease may allow you to terminate with a 60-day notice for job relocation, major life change, or if you need to become the caregiver of a loved one.
3. Sublet – Subletting is not always an option, but it may be. If your lease specifically says you cannot sublet, do not bother trying. However, if you’re allowed to legally sublet, make sure you find a tenant you can trust because you are still legally responsible for the property. You’ll want to make sure that your tenant pays on time, so you can pay the landlord (tip: make their rent due on a mid-month day to ensure you have it in time). An exception to you subletting and organizing the new tenant yourself may ocur if your landlord allows the new renter to apply, pay a security deposit, and sign their own lease.
4. Be Honest – Your landlord may not be pleased that you are breaking the lease, but if you are honest about the reasoning and give them ample notice, you may be able to come to an agreement regarding fees. Besides, if you give 60 days and allow him to show the apartment and he is able to find a renter then he may not charge you extra fees. Unfortunately, you may have to kiss your security deposit goodbye no matter what.
5. Pay the Fees – If you have tried everything you can think of and your landlord is still being unreasonable then you can stay and deal with living there until the lease is done, or pay the fees he is requiring to terminate. Some contracts may have it clearly stated that penalties will not exceed 60 or 90 days of rent, however some may require you to pay the full balance. In this case, splurging a little on a lawyer may be in your best interest.