Breaking an Apartment Lease Early: What to Expect
Take caution before breaking your lease. A valid lease is a binding contract which shouldn't be taken lightly. There are many reasons why you might need to move out ASAP. Potential reasons might be the loss of a job or maybe your company transferred you. It's also possible that your roommate just decided to get up and leave, and you cannot pay the rent on your own.
The reasons are many, but what to do next is often unclear. Many times landlords are willing to work with you. But if you live in a large apartment complex in a city like Houston or Austin, then you will need to consult your lease document.
Break out Your Lease
Before you do anything or make that first call, get out your apartment lease. Hopefully you kept it in a safe place in your rental. There will be a few clauses that will allow you to leave your place without penalty.
If you are in the military or another branch of government, this usually qualifies. There might be some other exclusions. If so, they will be listed in the document.
Tip: Our experts at Rentkidz suggest asking the manager if you can sublease your apartment home.
You were Let Go
One of the biggest reasons renters end up having to break their lease is due to the loss of a job. Everyone at some point in time has lost a job or been let go. Many private landlords are willing to work with you. They may even feel sorry for you and let you out without penalty.
It's the larger apartment communities that are more problematic. These are usually owned by large corporations and your valid reasons will usually fall upon deaf ears. Many of these communities will require that you pay 1 or 2 month's rent. If you fail to pay then this will be reported to the credit bureaus. And trust us, that's the last thing you want.
Luckily many of these properties will put you on a payment plan.
It's the Landlords Fault
In some cases you will be legally allowed to exit the property under no fault of your own. But we want to be very clear. These cases are very rare and you must follow the letter of the law. Each state will be completely different in these aspects. So you will want to research this thoroughly.
For example, in the state of Texas a lessee can break the lease if the apartment violates safety codes, or is otherwise unsafe. So what would constitute unsafe conditions? Maybe your apartment heater malfunctioned and your landlord has refused to make repairs or has stalled for a considerable length of time.
Texas also has another little known clause that most don't know about. If you break your lease early, the landlord must make every attempt to re-rent out the unit. So you might not have to pay for the entire amount. If you have 8 months remaining on your lease and the landlord rents out the apartment home with 6 months to go, you would only be responsible for 2 outstanding months.
Remember that every effort must be made to notify the landlord in writing and you must satisfy several conditions. You simply cannot leave the apartment!
What to Expect.
Your credit report will be severely impacted if you do terminate your lease without cause. Expect a ton of collection letters in the mail and even phone calls. Renting apartments like these in Houston will be off limits.
The best course of action is to write the management company a letter or make an appearance and explain your case. You might be surprised that people can be forgiving.
Don't be ashamed. Take command of your situation and be honest with your landlord. They will appreciate it! If you do find trouble in the future renting a place, and you have a broken lease, try using the locator services of an apartment finder