How to Get Out of a Rental Lease Early

How to Get Out of a Rental Lease Early
  • Opening Intro -

    Tenants commit to an apartment, typically by signing a lease for a one-year term.

    You are obligated to continuing to pay rent until the lease is up when either you or your landlord may renew it, cancel it, or allow it to go to month-to-month terms.


There are ways for you to get out of a lease if you need to. Here’s what you need to know about breaking your apartment lease.

1. Review your lease agreement. Likely, your apartment lease agreement spells out how early lease termination is handled. You may be required to pay the remaining months and you also may have to forfeit your security deposit. The agreement should also list reasons for termination that do not involve a penalty such as a job transfer out of the area.

2. Know your state’s laws. Your state has established and oversees landlord-tenant law. Contact your state to find out what laws allow you to end your lease early with or without penalty. For instance, if you have filed numerous complaints with the landlord about the heating system and it hasn’t been fixed, you may be able to leave the apartment without penalty. Federal law also allows military personnel to break a lease if they are deployed.

3. Meet with your landlord. Regardless of contract restrictions you may be permitted to cancel your lease if the landlord agrees to. One way you can help your cause is to line up a new tenant — either one who will sublease the apartment (if allowed) or who is willing to sign a new lease. If your landlord is receptive to your idea, then cooperate fully to get a new tenant. This means keeping your apartment clean and allowing the landlord to show it when you’re not around.

4. Keep track of everything. Even if you believe that you have the grounds to break a lease, your landlord may not be receptive to your request. You must establish legal grounds to break a lease without penalty, so write down the dates that the heat was not working or other persistent problem was in play. You will need that information if you must go to court.

Breaking a Lease

Keep in mind that there are no laws that state a tenant cannot break his lease. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be financial or legal consequences, but you can end a lease early.

Be mindful that some lease agreements automatically will renew unless you notify the landlord 60 to 90 days before the lease term ends. If you need legal representation, a lawyer can assist you. If you cannot afford an attorney, contact legal aid for help.

See AlsoWhat You Need to Know About Renter’s Insurance


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Categories: Consumer Tips

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".