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How To (Tactfully) Break A Lease

how to break a lease tips
Check your paperwork and read the fine print before you try to break your lease.

It happens: You find out you need to move cross-country to Denver, CO, for work after living in your apartment for only two months, or you get into a massive fight with your roommate and you both want to move out of your shared apartment, stat. The beauty of a rental is that you can pick up and leave somewhat easily — the only snag is breaking your lease.

While you may think it’s no big deal to move before your lease ends, your landlord would probably disagree. And they probably have a signed lease agreement to back up their position. Here’s how to break a lease gracefully and remain in good standing with your landlord.

Review your lease agreement

If you are a smart renter, you’ll have copies of all paperwork pertaining to your lease. See what your lease stipulates about early termination — is it allowed given 60 days’ notice? Can you leave at any time but forfeit your full security deposit? Or are you on the hook for the entire term of your lease? Know what’s at stake before you bail. Next, double-check to see if subletting is allowed — if it is, you may be able to easily vacate, given you find someone new to live there and pay the rent.

Pro tip: Whatever you do, don’t just abandon ship. Not only could you face legal consequences, but also your credit score could be tainted for a while.

Be transparent with your landlord

Leases are much easier to break if you have a good relationship with your landlord. This means establishing a history of honesty, paying rent on time, and showing respect for your space as well as your neighbors and landlord. If you have a good relationship, your landlord may be more understanding and willing to work with you on the terms of your lease ending. Accommodate your landlord and ask questions about how you can help ease the process.

Prepare to compromise

If your landlord isn’t cooperating as you expected, and you don’t have the flexibility to meet the terms of the early termination clause (or there is no early termination clause), try to come up with alternative solutions. Propose giving 30 days’ notice (and rent) instead of 60, or help them find a replacement tenant. If you can’t find a tenant, coordinate with your landlord to show your apartment to potential new renters. Keep your space tidy and prepared for visits to speed the process along. Suggest anything you can think of to make the transition stress-free for them — always keep in mind when breaking a lease that the landlord is usually accommodating your needs.

Do you have advice on how to break a lease? Share in the comments below!

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