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How to Escape Your Apartment Lease

Updated on August 28, 2010

When you apply for a new apartment, your landlord will likely ask that you sign a lease. The lease contains the rules you agree to obey while living on the property along with provisions to protect both the landlord’s interests and your own. Unfortunately, leases also lock you into living in a certain place for a pre-set period of time. If a job change or other unforeseen circumstances make it necessary for you to move before your lease expires, you may find yourself needing to break the lease. 

Pay the Lease Break Penalty

The easiest and fastest way to escape an apartment lease is simply to bite the bullet and pay the often exorbitant lease break penalty contained in your lease. Most lease break penalties amount to roughly two months’ total rent, but you may be able to recoup a portion of this if the landlord finds a renter to take your place relatively quickly. 

The lease break penalty doesn’t often include a return of your security deposit. Although you’ll have to take quite a financial beating when walking away from your rental contract, you can do so quickly and often without a lot of hassle. One thing to remember, however, is that not all leases contain a lease break penalty. In these cases, you must find another method of breaking the lease, since in order to escape the terms you originally agreed to, you’d have to pay off the full remainder of the lease – something few tenants can comfortably afford. 

Sublet Your Apartment

If you’re feeling particularly sneaky, you can attempt to sublet your apartment to someone else to escape your lease. While this method works well if you find a tenant willing to pay rent directly to you rather than the landlord, it’s a dangerous game to play with someone you don’t know or who you aren’t certain will both pay the rent in a timely manner and take good care of the property.

Few landlords openly allow subletting since it robs them of the ability to adequately screen potential tenants in order to weed out riffraff. If the rent is being paid on time and neighbors aren’t submitting constant complaints about your tenant, however, your landlord is likely to turn a blind eye to your little endeavor to escape your apartment lease. Even so, if you aren’t sure your landlord allows subletting, its best to keep the fact that you no longer live in the apartment complex under wraps. This method works best for big complexes where there are so many tenants that a few unfamiliar faces won’t arise suspicion. 

Break the Lease on a Technicality

If you happen to be active duty military, your landlord has no choice but to release you from your lease when you get stationed elsewhere. Otherwise, you can review your lease for provisions the landlord hasn’t held up his end of the bargain on. If the lease states that your grass should be cut once a week, yet it isn’t. raise a fuss. You can become a thorn in the landlord’s side without ever violating the lease yourself and placing yourself at risk of eviction. In some cases, your landlord may prefer to let you escape your apartment lease and move rather than continue to deal with you. 


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