With rents rising and mortgage rates falling, more and more renters are looking to get out of their leases early and take the plunge into home- ownership.
The good news: Landlords these days are often accommodating when letting folks move out before their leases expire. But even if a landlord plays hardball, tenants can usually walk without too much of a penalty.
If your landlord has several properties but no hard and fast rules, then it is probably up to your property manager to make the decision. Keep in mind that the rules that apply will vary from state to state, and even property to property.
How to Get Out of a Lease
Talk with Your Landlord
There are several ways to approach vacating your property early—moving out in the middle of the night without notice isn’t one of them. Instead, opt for open communication with your landlord and let them know your situation. Their sympathy will likely depend on the nature of the apartment market in your area. If vacancies are high, your landlord is probably going to be less compassionate than if there’s a waiting list of people wanting to take your place.
But even the most hard-hearted landlord will probably be willing to accept an upfront cash payment from tenants who wants to buy their way out of their lease. Indeed, many leases these days contain “home-buying clauses,” which enable tenants to opt out early for a relatively small fee. It’s all spelled out in the lease you signed, so all the more reason to read it.
Keep in mind that a renter’s liability typically ends when the property is rented to someone else. So if a tenant skips with six months to go and the place is rented again in a month, that person is on the hook for just 30 days. If it takes 60 days to lease the unit, than only two months’ rent is owed.
Additionally, landlords cannot simply sit back and wait for the lease term to end, and then sue the tenants for the months they weren’t there. In most states, it’s required they take reasonable steps to re-rent the place and credit that rent to the former tenant’s debt.
Talk with Your Builder
Depending on your situation, you may be able to work out some sort of agreement with your builder. If their construction schedule allows for it, in some cases the builder can delay the closing date to correlate with your lease ending. But be reasonable with what you’re asking; builders have a schedule to keep, and if you’re already demanding high discounts and free upgrades, they’re less likely to be accommodating to your timing request if it’s not convenient for them.
If a builder is feeling the pressure and needs to close a sale, there’s a small chance they might consider a lease buy-out option. While this isn’t very likely, a handful of cases have shown builders to help put money toward a remaining lease in order to help you and the landlord reach an agreement on your moving out.
Either Way: Communication is Key
Considering these options all hinge on the personal nature of your landlord and builder—not to mention a plethora of other factors—it’s best to start discussing your lease-end date with your landlord and builder as early as possible. This will give all parties involved enough time to consider every option available and find the solution that works best.
Mia Zozobrado joined Builders Digital Experience (BDX) in 2019 as a content writer. A graduate of Southwestern University with a degree in English, Mia is passionate about the written word and making connections. Outside of work, Mia also serves on the Board of Directors for the Writers’ League of Texas.