Despite everyone's best intentions at the start of a new lease, circumstances for families can change and this may cause the need to break a lease.
Terminating a lease is a tenant right in almost every landlord/tenant law, but it isn't always without consequence.
By following these early lease termination tips, however, you can make the process about as painless as it possibly can be.
1. Look for Hardship Clauses in Local Laws
Instead of just outright terminating a lease right away, look at the reasons behind the termination.
Is it because you just don't have the money to pay the rent any more?
If you've lost a job or had a bout of ill health that killed your finances, then you may be able to terminate the lease without any penalty.
The same principle is true for those in domestic violence situations.
2. Always Notify Your Landlord in Writing
Any lease termination should be in writing so there is no question as to the actual date of the termination.
This notification must be either mailed with a certified delivery option or hand-delivered.
Always give a landlord as much time as possible, going beyond the minimum notification deadlines, so more time can be taken to secure a new tenant.
3. Leave the Property As If You Were Moving Out at the End of the Lease
An early lease termination is not necessarily an automatic forfeiture of a security deposit.
Make sure that the carpets are professionally cleaned, hardwood floors mopped, and counters and cabinets bleached to reduce the monetary impact of preparing the home for the next tenant.
4. Secure New Tenants for the Property on Your Own if You Can
Many leases today stipulate a certain cost to tenants when they terminate their lease early which involves the finding of a new tenant.
You can avoid these costs by supplying your own tenants who may wish to either take over the remainder of your current lease or start a brand new one.
The landlord will need to screen the tenants and there is no guarantee of approval, but if you can plan for new tenants to move in the day you're moving out, you can minimize expenses for everyone.
5. Stop Paying the Rent the Day You Move Out
Although the rental agreement is a legally binding contract, many landlord/tenant laws do not require you to pay rent if you are not occupying a property.
Always research your local laws before proceeding, but in most cases, you'll want to stop paying any rent the day that you move out.
Until you move out, however, you're still occupying the property.
Even if you move out at 6am, you still have to pay rent for the full day of occupancy.
6. You've Already Agreed to Break Fees
Most leases have a certain fee that will be applied if a lease is broken.
This fee might be waived because of hardship laws, but that is generally the only exception to the rule.
This fee may or may not come out of your security deposit.
Sometimes a lease must be broken, but it shouldn't have to destroy your finances.
By following these tips, you'll set yourself up for the easiest, most affordable set of circumstances possible.
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