Break Your Lease Without Big Headaches

Physician's Money Digest, September30 2004, Volume 11, Issue 18

If you rent a home, condo, or apartment,the situation may arise whenyou have to move out right away.This is a common predicament for youngphysicians, who have saved up enoughmoney to buy their first home but arestill stuck in their rental lease. Breaking alease can be a monumental nuisance ifnot handled properly. Your landlordcould make things very difficult, and youmight end up paying vast sums of moneyjust to get out of it.

Landlord Cooperation

The first thing you should do is carefullyread over your lease, as it will containclauses about the terms of breakingit. There could possibly be a penalty feeattached. Unless you're fortunate enoughto have an early release clause in yourlease, getting your landlord to agree tolet you out of your lease is perhaps themost difficult part. Obviously, theywould much rather have you stay andcontinue to collect your rent money.From the landlord's point of view, a highturnover in tenants can hurt the reputationof the rental property, as well aspossible physical damage to the propertythrough moving in and out frequently.

One advantage you may have in gettingout of your lease is if there areunsatisfactory conditions in your property,such as a pest problem or shoddy construction.If you point these conditionsout to your landlord, they could be morelenient with you.

Reaching an agreement with yourlandlord through negotiations is critical.Breaking your lease without your landlord'sapproval can put a ding in yourcredit rating or may even cause a lawsuit.The best way to avoid this is to helpyour landlord find another tenant whocan move in as quickly as possible.Unfortunately, that isn't always easy.

Tools You Can Use

If you don't know anyone who cantake the apartment off your handsimmediately, a good resource to turn tois Sublet.com. On this site, you can post alisting for your rental property, whichcan then be seen by thousands of potentialtenants. Or you could go the moretraditional route by placing a classifiedad either in your local paper or on a Website such as Yahoo! Classifieds (www.classifieds.yahoo.com).

Break Your Lease Without Breaking the

Law

Another helpful tool you can use is, an e-form kit from Nolo ($19.95; 800-728-3555; www.nolo.com). Written byattorney Janet Portman, the kit containseverything you need to know about gettingout of your residential lease withoutupsetting your landlord or involving thelaw. The kit includes forms for both terminatingand assigning a lease, as well as asample letter for a landlord-tenant buyoutagreement.