Can I Break my Apartment Lease?

The day has come when your current living situation is no longer working. Perhaps you have lost your job, or perhaps you’ve taken a new job in a different state. Maybe you are getting a divorce, or perhaps you are getting married.

Whatever the case may be, there are certain scenarios that may require you to move out of your apartment before your lease term is up. But, by signing your lease, you have made a legally binding commitment to pay your rent through the full term of the lease. So, how can you make your move without violating your legal obligation and avoiding negative consequences? This blog post explores a few of the options you may have in vacating before your lease is up.

Time to leave your apartment? Don't get stuck with penalties. Image: TGM Communities via Flickr cc.
Time to leave your apartment? Don’t get stuck with penalties. Image: TGM Communities via Flickr cc.

To see if you may have a lawful out, start by reviewing your current lease agreement carefully. Look for any section that details early termination of the agreement. If the document states that you can break the lease early with appropriate notification, you can use this clause to get out of your apartment lease without penalty (source: homeguides.sfgate.com).

There are a few other cases where you may be able to get out of your apartment lease without any problems. Those cases include; your apartment becoming uninhabitable and damaged beyond repair (by no fault of your own), being called to active military duty, or a serious health condition or injury. It’s important to note that these laws will vary from state to state and you should always check to be sure you are covered before banking on any of these reasons to protect you.

apartment lease
Consider hiring a lawyer to help you understand the termination of your lease. Image: homesloansandrealestate.com

In most other cases, however, it will not be so easy to get off scotch free. While landlords will typically not dismiss your lease due to a new job or change in marital status, there are some things that may lessen the negative repercussions. Some examples include:

  • Your apartment is not fit to live in due to disrepair, lack of maintenance or neighbors that constantly disturb you with no action being taken.
  • You are able to find a new resident to fill your apartment that meets the requirements established by your landlord.
  • You are able to sublet your apartment (this may be prohibited- check your original lease document to confirm).

If you have any need for clarification about the terms of your lease, consider hiring a lawyer to review it with you. While the hourly rate of paying a lawyer may seem unappealing, they will be able to help you understand the ins and outs of your lease agreement and help you avoid being slammed with penalty fees.

Have you ever had to vacate an apartment early? What was your experience like? Let us know below in the comments section.