How to Get Out of a Lease
For one reason or another, there may come a time when you’re involved in a lease but need to get out from underneath it, so tenants need to know how to get out of a lease. This can be difficult to do since a lease is a legally binding document which states that you need to occupy said living space for a fixed amount of time. There are few reasons that you can have that will enable you to leave with minimal financial damage in terms of fees or penalties, if you can even leave at all.
The purpose of this article is to provide insight on how to get out of a lease while making as clean of a break as possible. Please keep in mind these are only tips and in no way a substitute for legal advice.
Reasonable Excuses for Breaking a Lease Agreement
You might have tons of reasons as to why you would want to break a lease agreement. Maybe you live in a bad area, you need to relocate for your job or maybe you’re going through a divorce. These reasons aren’t good enough to break your lease without repercussion, under most circumstances.
In fact, there are few reasons that are.
By law, you are entitled to break a lease if you have enlisted into the military. However, rules will vary from state to state and even from one leaser to another. Some places might require that you still pay rent for a period of time before leaving or have a minimum amount of notice that they require from you, before you can leave without facing a penalty.
Uninhabitable living is defined as living in a place that had holes in the roof, rodent infestation, mold or similar conditions. What you need to know about this is that you need to complain about these conditions first. Have everything documented in writing (preferably including pictures) and give the management a reasonable amount of time to take care of the issue.
Also, know that issues that make for an unbearable living space does not automatically mean your lease is void and you can move out. If the landlord or management takes care of the problem(s), than you still have to stay and pay rent per your lease agreement.
Find an Excuse to Break Your Lease
If you do not have what would is considered to be a legitimate reason to break your lease, then you only have one option. Find an excuse for getting out of your lease.
Look for damage around where you live. Don’t damage anything yourself; that will do more harm than good. Try to find things that are broken or are in need of repair like holes in the drywall, cracks in the ceiling, broken appliances or mold around sinks and toilets.
Be sure to complain about the damage frequently and document everything. Include the time you found the damages, when you complained and when or if the problem was taken care of.
Bait and Switch. Were you given everything that you were promised? While the lack of amenities such as a weight room, tanning room or swimming pool might be a bit of a stretch to get you out of your lease, the quality of where you live isn’t.
If you were shown something nicer than what you moved into, that might be grounds to be able to get out of your lease. Or, for example, if you were thinking you were moving into a gated community, only to find there isn’t a fence and/or gate anywhere to be seen, would be another example of a bait and switch tactic that might give you some momentum in your attempt to move early.
Report other issues such that go against the lease agreement. Have you complained about noisy neighbors who aren’t being taken care of? Is there someone not cleaning up after their pets?
Find an issue and complain about it. The more problems that you’re having and the fewer problems that are being addressed, the more likely it is that you’ll succeed in getting out of your lease.
Other Options for Getting Out of a Lease
If the suggestions above aren’t viable options for you, or if they have failed, then here are some other options worth looking into.
Sublet. Find someone to take the lease over for you. This could be a friend or family member. Just be sure that they are trustworthy, because if they do not come through, then you might be the one to face the consequences.
Also, as a word of caution be sure to check with your leasing agent or landlord to see if this option is even acceptable.
Pay the difference. If you have the disposable income you could just pay the amount that would be owed if were to stay. Again, be sure to check and see if this is acceptable. Many lease agreements require that you occupy the space you’re renting.
Stay put. You can just suck it up for the mean time and stay. This will be the most effortless option and the one that will cost you the least. Just wait it out and give ample notice for when you’d like to move out.
Work assistance. If you are moving because of a new job, then it’s possible that that your job has a relocation assistance program. See if they will pay some or all of what you’d owe so you can move out early.
Ask nicely. Explain your situation to management and see if they will have pity and let you leave. The worse they can do is say no.
Top 5 Tips for Successful Lease Breaking
- Document everything. Document and take pictures of everything. These will hold up much better in court as opposed to “he said,” “she said” arguments.
- When in doubt, get a lawyer. When you are dealing with legal documents, don’t mess around. Get a lawyer if you need help finding a loophole or if you are making a deal with the lease agent. Just remember that, unless the property management or lease agent is at fault, the law is likely to be their side.
- Don’t bail and vanish into the night. Your life will be a hellish nightmare, if you decide to just pack up and leave. You will face fees, penalties and a tarnished credit score as a result.
- Be civil. Since it’s so hard to break a lease without a really good reason, you’ll be much better off if you’re nice and are trying to work with management, instead of against them. Even go out of your way and offer to help find a tenant to replace you.
- Follow the rules. Since you are trying to find a way out from under your lease, don’t make yourself look bad by not following the rules in your lease yourself. Try to be a model tenant when trying to get out of a lease.