How to legally get out of an apartment lease

Written by alie maheux
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How to legally get out of an apartment lease
You should understand your obligations before attempting to break your lease. (immeuble de Paris image by photlook from

There is no law that can keep you from breaking your lease and there are many reasons a tenant may want to break a lease early. Your reasons for wanting out of a lease can vary from a rent increase to dissatisfaction with your neighbours. However, whatever the reason, it is important to know how to legally break a lease when renting. Keep the following suggestions in mind before breaking your lease.

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Things you need

  • Rental Agreement
  • Copy of Local Tenant Laws

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  1. 1

    Review your signed lease. To be able to break your apartment lease without a financial penalty, you need to know the exact terms of your lease.

    How to legally get out of an apartment lease
    (contract b image by Andrey Kiselev from
  2. 2

    Study your local rental laws. In some states, medical reasons and a military relocation are valid grounds to be released from your lease. In such cases, make sure you are able to provide suitable proof of your claim.

  3. 3

    Contact your landlord and explain your reasons for wanting to break your lease. More often than not, landlords will release you from your lease if there is ample justification. Just make sure you have a legitimate reason for wanting to leave your contact, such as moving to another state or financial constraints.

  4. 4

    Be willing to negotiate. Breaking your lease will require some degree of compromise and cost.

    It’s important to keep all your bills and rent up-to-date. That promptness may make your landlord more willing to negotiate the breaking of your lease.

  5. 5

    As a gesture of good will toward your landlord, it is a good idea to find a new tenant to

    take over your lease. Propose to your landlord that your lease be reassigned to your chosen tenant candidate. Remember to provide detailed written information about your prospective tenant’s financial ability to assume your lease, such as employment history and salary.

  6. 6

    Get all agreements and negotiations on paper. Any changes made to your lease contract must be agreed to and signed by both parties in order to be legally binding.

  7. 7

    Have your rental move out ready before your scheduled termination date. This will ensure you

    have sufficient time to repair or replace any damages within your rental and allow you to get your security deposit back from your landlord.

Tips and warnings

  • Document any correspondence between you and your landlord. These documents will help protect you if you end up in court.
  • Seek legal advice if your landlord refuses to break your lease. Mentioning that you are retaining an attorney may expedite the termination of your lease.
  • Read your lease before signing it. Some leases are harder and more costly to break than others.
  • Even if you find a new tenant to assume your lease, you may still be responsible for the balance of your remaining rent. Check your lease agreement.
  • Remember, if you terminate you lease contract without just cause, your landlord will have every right to pursue legal ramifications against you.

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