Last month, I wrote about renting vs. buying and how to know when it makes financial sense to take the leap into homeownership. (How to Know When it’s Time to Stop Renting). If you have decided that the timing is right for you, you may be wondering how to gracefully bow out of your existing lease, so that you don’t have to put off ownership until your lease ends. Here are a the most important things to keep in mind when considering breaking a lease:
1. Be honest
Despite their reputation, landlords are generally not the merciless, unmovable, monsters they are made out to be in the movies. Be upfront. Let your landlord know that you’ve entered into a contract and what your expected close/move date will be. Best case scenario, they will share in your enthusiasm and work with you to find a replacement tenant. Worst case scenario, they will let you know, in no uncertain terms, that you will be expected to pay out the remainder of your lease. Either way, they will go over the portion of your lease that let’s you know what your legal obligation is once you vacate the property before your lease expires.
If you are allowed to personally find a new lessee, be sure to utilize technology to maximize your efforts! Websites such as Flip, and using your social media platforms to publicize your need are both very practical and effective methods for connecting with someone that has a housing need. Also be sure to enlist your friends to share your posts to increase your reach!
2. Review your lease
Most experienced landlords anticipate that situations arise from time to time whereas renters are no longer willing or able to fulfill their lease requirements, so they typically address this situation in the document itself. Before you break the news to your landlord, make sure to review the terms of the lease so you know what to expect. In most cases, the lease will indicate a fee for breaking your agreement early, or some additional consequences of this action. Knowing what those fees and consequences are ahead of meeting with your landlord will prepare you for the conversation and let your landlord know that you don’t take your responsibilities lightly. Make sure they know that you fully intend to cooperate while they attempt to secure a new lessee.
3. Know your rights
Although breaking a lease without any repercussions is ideal, it’s not often the norm. The good news is that while housing inventory is low, most complexes will have an active waiting list and will be able to find a replacement renter quickly. In most cases, your landlord will also allow you to find a replacement on your own. Keep in mind that in most cases, any potential sub-leasee can not simply “take over your lease”. They will have to follow the same processes (credit checks, income requirements, references, etc.) that any new renter would have to. Its vitally important that you continue paying periodically in accordance with your lease agreement until a new tenant is found. Landlords are not allowed to double charge, so once a new tenant is secured and a new lease is signed, your obligation should end and any prorated rent returned to you. (*check with your local laws for clarification).
As always, if you have any concerns or if you need assistance in translating your lease, seek the advice of capable legal counsel.
If you have any real estate related questions, or if you’re ready to start shopping, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me! I’m happy to be your trusted real estate resource! You can reach me by phone/text anytime at 503-502-3330 or email at email@example.com.