Unforeseen circumstances such as a new job offer, change of school or family emergency usually require tenants to move away from their apartments before their leases end. Breaking a lease early negates a legally binding contract and usually comes with repercussions. However, tenants and landlords should follow best practices to ensure a positive outcome.
To avoid a spoiled rental record, tenants should take these four steps to ease the tension when breaking a lease
1. Give Adequate Notice
Landlords are more understanding of renters who come to them with property issues right away. The same etiquette should be used when informing property management of a necessary lease termination. As soon as renters have final notice of a job offer or other life change, they should inform their landlords. With ample notice, landlords can start advertising and showing the property right away. If property management can secure an occupant before the end of the month, both parties avoid monetary loss.
2. Advertise a Sublet
Renters can help their landlords fill an empty unit by subletting the apartment. Subletting is when a tenant passes on his or her lease to another party to avoid monetary or legal consequences. Searching for a rental property in the middle of the year may yield a narrow result, so subletting is a great chance for new renters to find available, quality units.
3. Understand Legal Procedure
In most states, landlords are required to put in at least some effort to re-rent a unit if the current tenant has to move. It would not be right for a landlord to intentionally leave the unit open for the remainder of the lease and continue charging the previous tenant each month. If a new renter is available to take over the lease, he or she should be offered the property. In today’s competitive rental market, it is highly unlikely a property management company cannot fill open units unless the property is in bad condition or located in a dangerous neighborhood.
4. Be Accommodating
Although a landlord must be determined and take the necessary steps to fill a vacated apartment, a tenant should be cooperative if the property manager is struggling. Tenants should keep their apartments in showing condition if they’re still residing onsite. The renting party is breaking a legitimate contract, and is technically required to pay monthly rent during the unoccupied period. Often, property management uses the security deposit as a rent subsidy while advertising the open unit. As long as property management is actively attempting to fill the unit, the tenant should stay compliant.
Ending a lease early can be a pleasant process, as long as both parties are willing to negotiate and work to correct the scenario. Most lease agreements detail the consequences of breaking the lease, including a tenant’s monetary and subletting responsibilities. Keep in mind broken leases are inconvenient for both tenants and landlords. With both parties prepared to comply, the financial and legal ramifications have less of an impact.
This was a guest post by Tali Wee of Zillow.