Should I break my rental agreement?

real estate, tips for buyers and renters  /   /  By Tracy

There may be a time when you find yourself needing to move out of your rental before the lease is up. Breaking a rental agreement can be a problem, as you’ve signed a contract to say you’ll be renting the property for a certain length of time. Legally, it isn’t easy to get out of a rental agreement. The usual ways are to find a friend or a friend of a friend to take over the lease or pay a large sum of money to the landlord. Or, you could take a third option and run away, dealing with the consequences at a later date.

It’s all right to break a rental agreement

Now, don’t think that needing to break your rental agreement means you’ve done something bad. You may need to move due to changing jobs, moving closer to family, because someone is sick, because the current property you’re renting is starting to become a hassle (I’ve moved into properties that had been near perfect for six months before anything started falling apart) or other reasons. The dramas of needing to break a lease can cause a bit of stress, especially if the reason you’re being forced to move is stressful itself.

When breaking a rental agreement, it’s best to know the laws, your rights and the details of the lease you signed. Not all rental contracts are the same, and the local laws change as well. You may have to move for a reason that is the fault of the property owner. If it is the fault of the landlord or the landlord wasn’t living up to their responsibilities that’s their own doing and not something you should deal with. Read the contract carefully to see if there’s any clauses that you can use to prove the landlord hasn’t fulfilled their end of the contract. Do not just run or argue with them over the phone, but seek legal advice and go about it the proper way. If the landlord is at fault for not living up to their responsibilities, and you run without paying, it goes on your credit and rental history that you’re the one who ran. Anyone who considers your rental application in the future will see that you skipped out on rent, not that your landlord was responsible.

Landlords are people too

I’ll tell you a secret – Landlords are people too. It’s something everyone forgets, as the person chasing you for money tends to look like a monster. Landlords aren’t always monsters; in fact, many aren’t. If you know you’re going to have to move house and have a reason; there may be an agreement you can reach through communication. It may be that the landlord understands the situation or can do something for you. It can also mean getting a good reference, keeping your credit and rental histories looking positive and it could save you a lot of money.

Something that has started online is services to help swap leases. There are services available online that have a marketplace for tenants with leases to connect with people who are looking to lease a property. A lot of renters are looking for long term security with a lease, but not all of them. There are some people who are in town for a short period, whether on holidays, work or for family matters. The better services have guidelines for potential tenants to meet before they’re able to use the service. One app that does this is called Flip, which involves selling a lease to someone else via the site. Information on Flip is found here.

Breaking a rental agreement isn’t an easy thing to do, but it is doable. Some landlords will make it easy, others will try to make as much money from you as they can before you leave. You need to be responsible first and sort through anything that needs to be done. Running away means that you don’t have to deal with the consequences then, but you will have to in the future. If you have time, then use it to your advantage and be as honest as you feel you can be. The earlier you start to organize things and speak to the landlord, the easier it will be for you.

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