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6 Signs It’s Time To Break Up With Your Landlord

man ending apartment lease
Although your apartment lease might not be up, these are the signs it’s time to find a new landlord.

When you first moved into your apartment for rent in Boston, MA, it was love at first sight. The freshly painted interior, new carpet, and sparkling bathroom tile made you giddy with excitement. Your landlord was cool, and you were buddies in no time.

After a while, the honeymoon ended. Your once-attentive landlord is late to return your calls, let alone keep up with repairs, and you’re wondering if it’s time to move on. Or maybe they drop by unannounced to check in and make sure you’re “taking care of the place” — without offering the 24-hours notice spelled out in your apartment lease. Whether your landlord is overwhelmed, neglectful, or invasive, the fact is that you’re just not that into them anymore. But can you spot the signs that it’s time to say goodbye forever?

Here are six signs that it’s time to break up with your landlord.

1. Not keeping up appearances

It was a whirlwind romance in the beginning, but now your landlord is neglecting basic repairs. “The rental property owner is generally responsible for repairs, particularly those affecting health and safety,” says David Mintz, vice president of government affairs for the Texas Apartment Association in Austin, TX. “In some cases, especially if someone is renting a single-family home, the resident may be responsible for some or all repairs. If so, these responsibilities should be outlined in the lease.” But if basic amenities like plumbing, heating, or air conditioning (depending on the season) aren’t functional for an extended period, your landlord should provide alternative housing or compensation. The same holds true for need-to-have appliances, like a stove or refrigerator. However, don’t withhold rent as a means to encourage action: This could get you evicted. Continue to pay on time and document your complaints — you’ll need that proof if you want to break your lease because your place is uninhabitable.

2. The unexpected drop-in

You just got out of the shower and put on your bathrobe when — surprise! — your landlord knocks at your door saying they need to change the AC air filter right now. Even better? Your place is a disaster: dirty dishes piled up in the sink and laundry strewn all over the floor. It’s just not a good time for visitors, and especially not a good time for this visitor. Except in case of an emergency, such as a gas leak, your landlord is required to provide at least 24 hours’ notice to enter your apartment (with your consent) in most states. If they can’t respect your privacy (or the law), it’s time to find someone who will.

3. Failure to communicate

You’ve called and emailed repeatedly to request help with the backed-up kitchen sink, infestation of cockroaches, or security concerns, but your landlord never calls back. It’s clear your issues with the apartment are no longer a priority for them. “The best course of action is to put any issues in writing and make sure you keep a copy of all communications,” says Mintz. Ask your landlord to also put everything in writing, especially your apartment lease terms and notifications about work being done. Don’t rely on verbal promises — make the landlord put it all down on paper. And if your legitimate requests for help continue to be met with silence, you might want to speak with an attorney or tenant rights advocate for advice before you give notice.

4. Rising rent

Has your landlord raised your rent with little (or no) warning? It might be a sign they’re trying to dump you — and it could be illegal. In many states, especially ones without rent control, local law restricts how much your rent can be increased, when it can be increased (typically at the end of your lease term), and how much advance notice you should be given (30 days is the norm). But in general, a rent increase is a possibility whenever your apartment lease is renewed — and if you’re on a month-to-month lease, that could be every month.

If you want to stay, you can try to negotiate with your landlord. After all, there are definite benefits for you both if you stay put. By keeping you as a tenant, they won’t have to deal with the hassle of finding a new tenant or having an empty apartment (and no rent money coming in) for a few weeks or months. If they’re not open to negotiation, and you can’t afford to stay, it’s time to explore other options.

5. Your place no longer suits your lifestyle

Is your landlord holding you back? After all, you’ve been dying to adopt a black Lab for years, but there’s a strict no-dogs-bigger-than-a-cat policy in your building. Or you can’t paint your walls anything other than the standard white, which is in direct opposition to your expressive, creative nature — not to mention your attempts at achieving feng shui. Don’t settle for the status quo. Find another rental that gives you the lifestyle you deserve, whether it’s a space with plenty of room for Fido, a shorter commute to work, or an upgrade to a bigger apartment or better neighborhood.

6. The grass is greener

Dreaming of an open-concept two-bedroom? We get it. It’s hard to keep your mind off the modern, sleek apartment complex down the street boasting European-style appliances, an on-site dog park, and deluxe fitness center — not to mention that roomy layout . It’s up to your landlord to keep the romance alive and entice you to stay. But if you just can’t resist, take your time to do it right, otherwise you risk paying some hefty move-out costs. “Make sure you fulfill your apartment lease or are prepared to pay whatever penalties are associated with breaking your lease early,” says Mintz. Consider the costs, and if the price is right, make your move.

How did you know it was time to end your apartment lease and move on? Share in the comments!