Remember that leases are legally binding contracts; by signing a lease you have agreed that you will care and pay for your rental until your lease term ends. As with any contract, do not take breaching the lease lightly. Life does happen, however, and there are events and circumstances that can make it necessary to break your lease; in situations of job loss or relocation, the death of a spouse or roommate, divorce or serious illness, there can be legitimate reasons that you may need to relocate.
If you find yourself in one of these situations here are some steps you can take to ensure that the transition goes as smooth as possible–and hopefully without a huge fee.
Review your lease agreement.
Your lease may include an opt-out clause allowing you to leave by paying a small fee (rather than being responsible for the rent until a new tenant comes along.)
Ask to sublet.
Landlords have expenses associated with owning a rental property and finding another qualified applicant for the property can ease your landlord’s financial burden if you leave early. Ask if your landlord allows subletting and you may be able to avoid paying fees altogether.
Arrange to move into another property owned by the same manager.
Life events can create new housing needs. If you find that you need a bigger rental because you are starting a family, or you need to downsize due to a split with a partner, ask your landlord or property manager if they have other properties for rent. You may find that they have a vacant unit that could perfectly fit your needs. Since you will still be paying rent to the same entity, you may incur a smaller fee (or no fee at all) if you move into another property they own.
Be a great tenant.
Above all, being a great renter throughout your lease term will significantly improve your landlord-tenant relationship. Properly caring for the property, being courteous to neighbors, and paying rent on-time will greatly work in your favor. Landlords are unlikely to cut slack for an irresponsible tenant but will be much more forgiving with tenants they have an established relationship with.
Breaking your lease should never be done without a lot of consideration. Since they are binding contracts, it’s imperative to only enter into a lease agreement when you are sure that you can follow through with it. However, if you find yourself in a circumstance where you must break the lease, you are thankfully not without options. Being a great tenant and offering a few creative solutions may be the key you need to ensure that you can break your lease early without a hitch–or breaking the bank.