If unforeseen circumstances, such as a job transfer or divorce, leave you with no option but to move out of state, you may face a problem when the time comes to break your lease. A lease is a legally binding rental contract. Unless you have legitimate grounds to break the lease and move out early, you are still legally responsible for paying rent on the property until the lease expires or the landlord finds a new tenant. Depending on your state’s landlord/tenant laws and the specific terms of your contract, you may be able to break your lease early — freeing you for your out-of-state move.
Read through a copy of your lease, paying close attention to the early termination requirements. Some leases offer early termination without penalty for those who must relocate due to no fault of their own. For example, some leases contain provisions allowing renters to break their leases due to a job transfer or new employment.
Pay your landlord an early termination fee. Depending on the provisions in your lease, you may have the right to end your lease early without an explanation provided you pay a fee to the landlord for the privilege.
Explain your situation to the landlord and ask him to release you from your rental lease. Even if your lease does not contain any provisions allowing you to terminate the agreement early, your landlord can voluntarily release you from your obligation if he chooses.
Multiply the number of months left on the lease by the amount you pay each month. The product of your calculation represents the total amount you owe on the lease. By paying the landlord the total amount remaining on the lease, you satisfy your payment obligations and can proceed with your out-of-state move.
Locate a suitable tenant to replace you. A landlord’s refusal to permit you to end your lease early is often based on financial concerns. If the home is empty, the landlord loses money she would have otherwise collected in rent. When you find a responsible tenant to replace you, the landlord does not lose money and is more likely to allow you to walk away from your lease.
Visit the courthouse and read through your state’s civil code for legal grounds under which a tenant can terminate a lease early. Regardless of your true motive, if a problem exists in your apartment or rental home that your landlord will not or cannot fix, you may have legal grounds under which to break your lease without your landlord’s consent. For example, if your home suffers from a considerable insect infestation that your landlord will not address or cannot remedy, your state may permit you to break your lease to find more suitable housing.
Some states maintain their civil codes on the state’s website — saving you a trip to the courthouse to conduct your research.
If your lease does not contain any early termination provisions, consider subleasing your home to a responsible tenant after you move. The tenant then pays his monthly rent to you and you pay it to the landlord — saving you from the steep fines and legal problems you could face when terminating your lease.
You may lose your initial security deposit for ending your lease early.
You cannot simply walk away from your rental home or apartment and consider the lease terminated. Your landlord can sue you for unpaid rent and damages when you move out without formally terminating the lease or giving the landlord proper notice of your intentions.
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