A loss of income often means you can no longer pay all your bills. Rent is typically the mostly costly payment you need to make, so it may be wise to look for less-expensive housing. Moving in with friends or back with your parents can give you the time you need to get back on your feet. One problem you might face in moving, however, is breaking your current apartment lease. When you signed the lease, you entered into a legal agreement. Although the lease is a binding document, it is sometimes possible to get out of the lease without suffering penalties.
Search for the Early Termination Clause
Chances are you didn't read every word of the lease before you signed. You'll need to get the document out and reach over it thoroughly. Almost all rental agreements have a clause regarding early termination of the lease. It there you will find out if any penalties apply if you opt to leave before the end of the contract terms. Many times, the penalty will be one or more months' rent, but it varies by contract.
Review Your Tenant Rights
Take some time to research the laws in your area regarding tenancy. Many states have agencies dedicated specifically to renter's rights if you aren't sure where to start your search. Simply contact your local organization for advice on breaking a lease without having to pay the remaining months.
Be Honest With Your Landlord
Tell your landlord the truth about your situation as soon as possible. Don't wait until you are delinquent with payments to discuss breaking the lease. Many landlords will be sympathetic to your loss of unemployment and might forgive the breaking of the lease or negotiate on an agreement you can afford.
If you have to break a lease because you lost your job, be honest and do not attempt to get out of a penalty by claiming another reason. For instance, do not claim the landlord did not make necessary repairs unless this is the truth and you have documentation to prove it.
Locate a Replacement
Do your due diligence to search for a new tenant. Consider subletting if it does not violate the rental agreement and is legal in your state. Talk to your landlord about it so he knows what is going on and ask for his approval. He will probably prefer for the new person to sign a lease, but if it is a short-term arrangement, he might allow a sublet.
Make Payment Arrangements
If you have a balance on the lease, do the right thing and make payment arrangements with the landlord. The landlord may be willing to negotiate with you and accept payments that are more in line with what you can afford to pay. You may also wish to forfeit your security deposit to cover some of the balance.
Go the Extra Mile
Offer to paint and thoroughly clean the residence after you move your things out. This can save the landlord money and, hopefully, make him or her more amenable to allowing you to break the lease without penalty.
- U.S. News and World Report: Breaking an Apartment Lease -- What You Need to Know
- Money Crashers: How to Break an Apartment Lease Agreement Without Penalty
- Forbes: When Should You Break a Lease?
- LSNJLAW: Ending or Breaking Your Lease
- Student Loan Hero: How to Break a Lease Without Going Broke
- Housing Education: Tenants Rights
- Trulia: 3 Ways To Get Out Of Your Lease For Free