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Escape Routes: Getting Out Of An Apartment Lease

By Colleen Colkitt

There are different types of lease agreements, and the reasons a renter wants to leave the agreement also matters when ending a lease for an apartment. Landlords have renters sign leases so they can line up other renters right away after one tenant moves out, and they can therefore make the most profit.

Whether you got a new job and can afford a better place, or you're moving to a new city, you need to know how to end your lease. Here are some tips to get out of the legal agreement without too much trouble!

Tips to get out of your lease

First, read your lease entirely. This is the most important thing! Sometimes there will be stipulations for ending the contract, and knowing these before entering into dialogue with your landlord will help you.

Tenants who have maintained the property and kept it in great condition will have better chance of gaining favor with the landlord. Proving you are a good tenant will help your chances of terminating the lease early.

If you give the landlord ample notice of your departure, they will be more likely to forgive the breach of contract, especially if you have found a replacement tenant for the remaining months you would have been there otherwise. With month-to-month leases, you know you need four weeks notice. With a fixed-term lease, it's always better to line up a renter to take your place, but if you can't do this, make sure to inform the landlord just in case they know of interested renters.

Perhaps subletting is an option for you. If you know of a person who will pay rent to occupy your apartment, consider subletting it to them for the amount of time your lease still has on it. Although you will be accountable for any damage they may cause or their missed rent payments, you have the liberty to be selective with whom you choose to sublet to.

If the landlord is unwilling to let you break the lease, be sure to keep all paperwork and contracts that will document problems with the property, or any neglected repairs the landlord has yet to fix. If the landlord fails to hold up his or her end of the lease, keep all records of the repairs, maintenance, and inspections done to the apartment. Documents proving the landlord failed to follow the lease will help the tenant exit the lease as well.

Documents will also prove to benefit you if medical records show health issues causing you to move out, or individuals in the military whom are being deployed will have special permission to get out of the contract as well.

If it comes to it, look for any problems with the apartment such as mold, broken smoke detectors, or possible safety hazards. These issues can persuade the landlord to agree to forgive your rent for months remaining in the lease.

For the Future

If you've already had a bad experience trying to get out of a lease in the past, help yourself by making sure your lease includes a lease-break agreement before you sign. This will detail the proper procedure to get out of the lease. It is to your benefit to negotiate ending the lease by bargaining a portion of your security deposit, which is what it's there for, or even offering to pay for rent a month or two after you've moved out early.

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