Breaking a lease, or moving before your lease period is up, is something that you should only do if you have exhausted all other options. When you enter a lease with your landlord, it is a legally binding contract and you are bound to pay rent for the entire term of your lease. However, sometimes life throws something at you where you just can’t stay for the whole time you have committed to. About.com has some tips for how to minimize the penalties you have to pay.
If you are breaking a lease because you have been called to active duty in the military, your apartment is so damaged it is uninhabitable, or you’ve had a serious decline in your health, you most likely won’t have to pay a penalty. As soon as you know your situation is going to change, notify your landlord and check what laws are on the books in your state or locality. If your landlord fails to maintain or make repairs to your apartment despite repeated requests or your landlord fails to intervene when notified of difficult neighbors, you may not be subject to a penalty. However, you must keep good records of your justification for breaking your lease if you fall into this category, just in case you have to fight the penalties in court.
Often, even if you think you have a very good reason for breaking your lease, such as a job transfer, marriage or buying a house, the law is not on your side. You can minimize the amount you have to pay, though, by giving the landlord as much notice as possible and you can even offer to help find a new tenant yourself.