Breaking Apartment Lease Early

Renting a new apartment is an exciting time, it is a new chapter that includes new daily routines, new neighborhoods, restaurants, etc. However, life moves quickly and apartment leases do not. Most likely you’re going to be committed to signing a one-year lease. As we know, opportunities at work and in your private life come quickly and often don’t stay present for a whole year. If you find yourself in a position where an external factor is forcing (or inviting) you to a new living situation – here’s what you need to know about breaking your apartment lease agreement.

First, lets outline the potential consequences that can have short-term and long-term effects on you and your financial well-being.

Civil Suit

Technically speaking, you did sign a legally binding contractual agreement. Skipping rent payments is not a great strategy because eventually you will be forced to answer the bell on those missed payments. In all likelihood any judge will rule that you owe missed payments.

Credit Judgement

Your credit score is your life line. It’s the metric that gives you access to money, low interest rates, and anytime you’re making an obligation to pay someone back in the future, a judgment will negatively impact you. This derogatory mark will stay on your credit report for seven years so a short-sighted decision now can really impact you long-term. Check out Credit Karma to learn more!

Renting Again

The aforementioned credit report may come back to haunt you when you go to sign a new lease. Landlords have the right to ask for your credit report to make sure they are renting to a trustworthy lessee. This will also impact you if you decide to try and purchase a property or receive any other sort of financing.

Ok, enough will all the negativity. Like anything else, there are ways to get out of a lease unscathed.

Be Honest

Landlords are people too. They understand life happens and that a renter may have to break their apartment lease early. Let them know, offer to help find them a new roommate. There is a plethora of applications that make finding off season renters significantly easier than in years past. Having a conversation open and honestly is your best bet to get out of your lease early without penalty.

Early Termination Clause

This very issue is commonly addressed in leases. Make sure to read your lease thoroughly before you sign it initially. If you do not see a clause to break the apartment lease early then you may suggest amendments to the contract to include this language. The most common scenario is a one-month penalty. All things considered, to pay one month and be out unscathed is good!

 Contract Breach

If you got unlucky and have the worst landlord ever, a great option to look for a breach of contract. Landlords, while in a position of power, have very strict guidelines for keeping their properties safe for their renters. Maybe there is a broken door, the heater is broken, or the outside lights don’t work at night – something along these lines may help you get out for free.

Security Deposit

When breaking the news to your landlord suggest that you are not interested in recouping your security deposit. This may open negotiations on a good note and allow the landlord to let you off penalty free.


In short, if you signed a legally binding agreement you have no real power in the situation. Realize the likelihood of you breaking the apartment lease early and not paying any sort of financial restitution is very low. However, it is a far better option than getting sued or a derogatory mark on y