Santa Barbara
71° F
Clear
Clear
Santa Maria
70° F
Clear
Clear
San Luis Obispo
71° F
Clear
Clear
Ventura
68° F
Clear
Clear

How to break a lease on an apartment

Published On: Jul 22 2013 12:53:21 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 24 2013 07:58:05 AM CDT
Apartment balcony

iStock Image

By Law Offices of Reese, Samley, Wagenseller, Mecum, and Longer

Renting an apartment is not something you should enter lightly. The lease you sign with your landlord is a legally binding contract and cannot be easily broken. In fact, breaking your contract could end up causing you serious legal problems. You could end up in a lawsuit, it could hurt your credit, and it could also cause difficulties for you when applying for apartments in the future. Your lease obligates you to pay rent for the entire length of your contract, and if broken early, you still are legally required to pay the remainder of rent due to your landlord.

There are some circumstances that allow you to break your lease without a penalty or with a minimal penalty:

-- If you are called to active military duty, federal law allows you to break your lease. Many state laws also allow you to break your lease without penalty if you are required to relocate for military reasons.

-- You can also break your lease if your apartment is significantly damaged by natural disasters or crime. This damage cannot be your fault, so don't purposely destroy your apartment.

-- You may also be able to get out of your lease if your landlord is negligent -- if he does not repair or maintain the property -- or if he invades your privacy.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to get out of your lease, there are some options for you:

-- Check your lease for an early termination clause. Many times this is not included in your lease, so it's always good to negotiate these term BEFORE signing any lease. If there is a clause, it allows tenants to break the lease for family, medical and job issues.

-- Talk to your landlord. If he's a nice guy, and there's high demand for rental space in your area, he might not mind. He might let you out penalty-free.

-- If your landlord is hesitant, you can offer to pay for a few months of rent after you leave, or absorb the costs of looking for a replacement. You can also offer to pay for the costs of cleaning and painting the apartment after you move out. These are headaches for landlords, and it might help your case.

-- You can also offer to find a sub-letter for the remainder of your lease. Make sure you check your lease agreement and talk to your landlord, because many times leases do not allow this. The sub-letter will write you a check, and you will continue to write the check to your landlord.

If none of those are an option, you can also pay the lease balance off over time. If you have $3,000 remaining, perhaps you can negotiate a payment plan over six months. It's important to remember that your landlord has an obligation to re-rent the place after you move out. They cannot leave the place vacant and then sue you for the remainder of your rent at the time that you lease would have ended. The law requires them to take reasonable steps to find a new renter. Remember that reasonable does not mean extraordinary. They are allowed to be picky, but you are welcome to help find an acceptable replacement renter.

If your landlord does nothing, he cannot require back payments of rent from you. It's standard to lose your security deposit or a month's rent, but the law protects you from his negligence. Make sure you check with your particular state on what its laws require.

If you have a particularly complicated situation or difficult landlord, it may be best to consult with an attorney who has experience in landlord-tenant relationships.

The members of the Law Offices of Reese, Samley, Wagenseller, Mecum, and Longer practice in Lancaster, Pa., and collectively have 160 years of experience between them. One of their many areas of practice is Landlord-Tenant Relationships.

Comments

The views expressed are not those of this company or its affiliated companies. Please note by clicking on "Post" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms Of Service and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. 
blog comments powered by Disqus
  • fatal_accident_investigation

    Extensive Investigation into Triple Fatal Accident

    An extensive investigation is underway to determine the cause of death in a triple fatal rollover accident Monday morning in Santa Barbara.

  • State Street Benches Gone

    Benches Removed in Two Block Area of Downtown Santa Barbara

    Benches have been removed in a two block area of State Street between Haley and Ortega Streets in downtown Santa Barbara.  The city says they are being cleaned and repaired.

  • Santa Barbara County Sheriff s candidates forum

    Santa Barbara County Sheriff Candidates Face-Off

    Santa Barbara County Sheriff candidates squared-off at a candidates forum Wednesday night.

  • Triple Fatal Auto Accident on Highway

    3 Dead In Early Morning Accident, Driver Arrested For DUI

    The 101 southbound through Santa Barbara reopened just before 12:30 Monday afternoon as authorities investigate what they say was a deadly two car DUI accident.

  • fuzion_store_business_santa_barbara

    UCSB Group Boycotts Business For Promoting Deltopia

    A UCSB student group is boycotting a local business for creating the Deltopia Facebook page, which they said brought in thousands of outsiders to the small college town.

  • Roger Aceves Runs for Santa Barbara County Supervisor Seat

    Goleta Mayor Roger Aceves is running for Santa Barbara County Supervisor.

  • girl_child_coughing_sick_whooping_cough

    Contagious Diseases Making a Comeback in California

    Deadly diseases that were a thing of the past are making a comeback in California.

  • Ordinary Citizens Receive Awards for Acts of Heroism

    Ordinary Citizens Receive Awards For Acts of Heroism

    The Santa Barbara Police Department recognized some ordinary citizens doing extraordinary things. An awards ceremony was held Wednesday to recognize the acts of heroism.

    Each year officers nominate those in our community who they feel are deserving of the "Extra Step Awards" These awards recognize acts of heroism that include saving lives and aiding officers in fighting crime.

    A total of 8 people received the prestigious annual award sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Santa Barbara. They include:

    Daniel Green
    Mr. Green, Head of Security Operations at the Wildcat Lounge, assisted SBPD officers on multiple occasions in 2013 dealing with combative subjects and with alcohol-related, narcotics, and DUI investigations.  He was nominated by Officer Ethan Ragsdale.

    Thomas Eck
    Mr. Eck, the Santa Barbara High School Track Coach, prevented a felony fugitive from stealing a van and potentially driving through a crowd of student athletes and spectators leaving a track meet at Santa Barbara City College.  He was nominated by Officer Carl Kamin.

    William Barbaree & Nicholas McGilvray
    Mr. Barbaree and Mr. McGilvray performed lifesaving first aid, prior to the arrival of emergency personnel, to James Atwood and Ellen Atwood, two motorcyclists that had been struck by a drunk driver.  They were nominated by Officer Heather Clark.

    Devin Shaw, Eva Pagaling & Steffanie Colgate
    Mr. Shaw, Ms. Pagaling, and Ms. Colgate witnessed the hit-and-run collision that resulted in the death of Mallory Dies.  They pursued the suspect, tried to persuade him to return to the scene of the collision, called 9-1-1, and directed officers to the suspect's location resulting in his apprehension.  They were nominated by Officer Jaycee Hunter.

    Scott Houston
    Mr. Houston came to the aid of an officer struggling in the street with a bank robbery suspect, helping to detain the suspect until additional officers arrived on-scene.  He was nominated by Officer Richard Washington.

  • Lupita Nyong'o

    REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

    People's 'World's Most Beautiful' list 2014

    People magazine recently named Lupita Nyong'o its "World's Most Beautiful" for 2014. See which other ladies earned a coveted spot on the annual list.

  • Who's the Boss blurb image

    Sony Pictures Television

    Where are 'Who's the Boss?' stars now?

    With Tony Danza marking his 63rd birthday on Monday, join us for a look at what he and the rest of the cast of "Who's the Boss?" are up to today.