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How to Break an Apartment Lease When You Lose Your Income

by Lisa Mooney, Demand Media

    A loss of income often means you can no longer pay all your bills. Rent is often the mostly costly payment you need to make, so you might decide to find less-expensive housing. Moving in with friends or back with your parents can give you time to get back on your feet. One problem you might face in moving, however, is breaking your current apartment lease. When you signed the lease, you entered into a legal agreement. It is sometimes possible, however, to get out of your lease without suffering penalties.

    Step 1

    Read your rental agreement thoroughly. There should be a clause regarding early termination of the lease. It will tell you what penalty is involved. Many times, this will be one or more months' rent, but it varies by contract.

    Step 2

    Research the laws in your area regarding tenancy. Many states have agencies dedicated specifically to renter's rights. Contact your local organization for advice on breaking a lease in your locale.

    Step 3

    Tell your landlord the truth about your situation as soon as possible. Don't wait until you are delinquent with payments to discuss breaking the lease. Many landlords will be sympathetic to your loss of unemployment and might forgive the breaking of the lease or negotiate on an agreement you can afford.

    Step 4

    Search for a new tenant. Consider subletting if it does not violate the rental agreement and is legal in your state. Talk to your landlord about it so he knows what is going on and ask for his approval. He will probably prefer for the new person to sign a lease, but if it is a short-term arrangement, he might allow a sublet.

    Step 5

    Make payment arrangements to deal with the balance on the lease. Negotiate with your landlord and be honest about how much and how often you can pay her. Forfeit your security deposit if you can afford to do so.

    Style Your World With Color

    Tip

    • Offer to paint and thoroughly clean the residence after you move your things out. This can save the landlord money and, hopefully, make her more amenable to allowing you to break the lease without penalty.

    Warning

    • If you have to break a lease because you lost your job, be honest and do not attempt to get out of a penalty by claiming another reason. For instance, do not claim the landlord did not make necessary repairs unless this is the truth and you have documentation to prove it.

    About the Author

    Lisa Mooney has been a professional writer for over 18 years. She has worked with various clients including many Fortune 500 companies such as Pinkerton Inc. She has written for many publications including "Woman's World," "Boy's Life" and "Dark Horizons." Mooney holds bachelor's degrees in both English and biology from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

    Photo Credits

    • David Sacks/Photodisc/Getty Images

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