Should You Ever Break Your Apartment Lease?

Are there ever times when it is acceptable to break your lease and find a new apartment?  While breaking a lease is frowned on by most landlords, there are circumstances when it is allowed by law and other occasions when it may be permissible. Read our responses below to answer the question: Should you ever break your apartment lease?

Should You Ever Break Your Apartment Lease

Covered By Law


The laws will vary by state, but most will allow you to break your lease if the apartment becomes seriously damaged.  This may be due to a water leak or fire or some other catastrophic event.  It is expected that the landlord pay for or provide other accommodations as long as the damage is not your fault.  However, should this be unacceptable or become a lengthy process, you may have the option of breaking your lease with no penalty.


Another reason covered by law is if you are called to active duty.  Landlords may choose to forgo the rent payment until you return or allow you to get out of your lease with no penalties.


If you suffer a serious change in your health that makes it impossible for you to live on your own, you may be covered by state law to relieve you of your responsibilities to the apartment.  This often affects seniors when they need to move to an assisted living facility, but it can involve anyone with a health issue.


How to Break a Lease


If you must break your lease for some other reason such as getting married or employment in another state, you may incur penalties.  This can include forfeiting your security deposit or even paying out the rest of your lease.  However, if you have been a good tenant, the landlord may be willing to work with you.


Give as much advance notice as possible.  The minimum expectation is at least 30 days, but more would be better.  This allows the landlord time to find a renter to replace the lost rent.


Find a replacement tenant yourself.  Do the legwork and ask people you know.  You can even put an ad on Craigslist or the local newspaper to find someone.  By doing this yourself, you can minimize the time your apartment will be empty and the amount of rent you may have to pay.


It is usually required by law for a landlord to make every effort to lease your apartment.  They also cannot charge you for the duration of your lease while receiving rent from a new tenant.  That is called double rent and is considered illegal in most states.  They can rent your unit for less than what you were paying and you will be responsible for the difference until the end of your term.

 Concluding Thoughts

While it is not recommended that you break your lease, there may be times when it is unavoidable.  In those instances, try to find ways to limit the problems by communicating with your landlord and working to resolve any issues.  Find a tenant as responsible as you have been and you should receive a good recommendation for your next apartment.

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