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Posted in How-to, Moving Tips&Tricks on June 2, 2023
Kate Holland

A true grunge and rock music fan born in Seattle, Kate has moved across the country and started writing about her experience.

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Get Out of an Apartment Lease

Leasing an apartment is a commitment that is meant to provide stability and comfort in our lives. However, circumstances can change unexpectedly, leaving us searching for advice on how to get out of an apartment lease and break free from the confines of an agreement.

Breaking an apartment lease takes several steps. First, thoroughly review your lease agreement to understand the terms and conditions, paying particular attention to any provisions related to lease termination. Next, open up a dialogue with your landlord or property management to discuss your situation and explore possible solutions. You can propose options such as finding a replacement tenant, subleasing, or negotiating an early termination agreement.

It’s important to document all communication and agreements in writing. If you encounter difficulties or face disputes, seeking legal advice from a professional familiar with tenant rights can provide further guidance and support.

What Are the Challenges of Getting Out of an Apartment Lease?

Getting out of your current abode might be triggered for several reasons, and it’s usually when people need to relocate for a specific purpose. You might need to move with long-distance movers because of a job transfer to another state, a family emergency, or health issues. Perhaps you have decided to live somewhere else because of the weather, so you are relocating to a warmer climate.

It might also be for financial reasons. Keep in mind that the average monthly rent in the US for a two-bedroom apartment was $1,320 as of February 2023, up from $1,282 the previous year, according to Statista.

infographic showing income needed to pay rent in three states
Some people decide to switch their living space for a more affordable one

While these circumstances may be valid reasons for why you want to move, it can still be challenging to navigate the process of terminating your agreement. Canceling rental agreement can pose several challenges on its own. Some common difficulties include:

  • If you’re wondering how to break an apartment lease, you should know that it involves financial consequences, such as having to pay a penalty fee or being responsible for rent until a new tenant is found. These costs can add up and impact your relocation budget and overall finances.
  • Depending on the lease agreement and local laws, you may have limited options for terminating Some leases may not have early termination clauses or allow subleasing, making it harder to exit the agreement.
  • If you’re responsible for finding a replacement tenant, it can be time-consuming and challenging. Screening potential candidates, coordinating with the landlord, and ensuring a smooth transition can be demanding tasks.
  • The willingness of your landlord to cooperate can greatly affect the ease of terminating your agreement. Some landlords may be unresponsive, unsympathetic, or uncooperative, making the process more difficult.
  • Breaking a lease without following proper legal procedures can result in legal consequences. It’s crucial to understand your rights, obligations, and local laws to avoid potential legal issues.

Navigating these challenges requires careful planning, effective communication, and knowledge of your rights and obligations as a tenant. Seeking professional advice, such as consulting with a lawyer, can be beneficial in complex situations. Familiarizing yourself with your obligations helps you fulfill them responsibly, maintaining a positive landlord-tenant relationship and avoiding legal disputes.

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How White Glove Moving Services Can Help Break Your Lease and Move Out

White glove moving service can be a valuable asset when breaking your lease and moving out of an apartment. These specialized services provide comprehensive assistance, handling every aspect of your relocation with meticulous care and professionalism. From packing service to safely transporting them to your new destination, white glove movers alleviate the stress and physical demands of the long-distance moving process.

Their expertise in long-distance moving services ensures that your items are properly protected during transit, minimizing the risk of damage. Additionally, they can help streamline the logistics of coordinating move-out day preparations, ensuring a smooth transition from your old apartment to the next. By entrusting your move to a white glove moving company, you can focus on the necessary steps to break your lease while leaving the complex task of moving in the hands of experienced professionals.

A mover carrying boxes after long-distance moving
As soon as you deal with rental paperwork, you can contact the right movers to help you relocate

How to Get Out of an Apartment Lease – Reviewing and Understanding Your Options

When it comes to getting out of an apartment lease because you want to move to a new city alone, a crucial step is to thoroughly review and understand your options. Start by examining your lease agreement carefully. Look for clauses specifically related to lease termination or early termination, as they may outline the conditions under which you can end your lease early.

Pay close attention to any penalties or fees associated with breaking the lease, as these can vary depending on the terms outlined in the agreement. By familiarizing yourself with these important details, you can gain a clear understanding of the potential consequences and obligations involved in terminating your lease.

a woman browsing a blue organizer for cross-country moving
Ensure you understand all your options for terminating the lease

Communicate With the Landlord or Property Management When Canceling a Rental Agreement

Effective communication with your landlord or property management is essential when canceling a rental agreement. Initiate the conversation as soon as you’ve made the decision to leave and move to another state alone, explaining your reasons clearly. Request a meeting or arrange a phone call to discuss the situation in detail. Be prepared to provide supporting documentation if necessary.

It’s important to maintain a cooperative and respectful tone throughout the discussion, as it can greatly influence the outcome. Document all communication in writing, including any agreements or arrangements reached, to ensure clarity and protect yourself legally. Effective communication can foster a more amicable and mutually beneficial resolution during this process.

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Finding a Replacement Tenant, Subletting, or Assigning the Lease

When looking to break an apartment lease, finding a replacement tenant, subletting, or assigning the lease can be viable options to explore. Finding a replacement tenant involves actively seeking someone to take over the remainder of your lease. This option requires screening potential candidates with the approval of your landlord.

Subletting, on the other hand, allows you to temporarily transfer your lease to someone else while maintaining your ultimate responsibility as the original tenant. It’s important to check your lease agreement and consult with your landlord to ensure subletting is allowed.

Assigning the lease involves transferring the entire lease agreement to another individual, relieving you of any future obligations. This option typically requires the landlord’s consent. Whichever option you pursue, it’s important to follow the proper procedures, communicate openly with your landlord, and document all agreements in writing to protect yourself legally.

Seller signing a closing contract before cross-country moving
Your landlord might be willing to transfer your lease to a replacement tenant

Terminating the Lease Agreement – Preparing Proper Notice and Documentation

To ensure a smooth and legally compliant process, you should begin by reviewing your lease agreement to determine the required notice period for termination. This will vary depending on the terms outlined in the agreement and local laws. Once you know the notice period, provide written notice to your landlord or property management, clearly stating your intention to terminate the lease and the effective date of termination.

Keep a copy of the notice for your records (these are important documents) and consider sending it via certified mail or email to have a verifiable record of delivery.

Lease Breaking Fees and Deposit Are Just Some of the Financial Obligations

When leaving a rented apartment early, it’s important to be aware of the financial obligations involved, including lease-breaking fees and the handling of your security deposit. Review your lease agreement to understand any fees or penalties outlined for early termination. Additionally, address the return of your security deposit and clarify any potential deductions that may be made.

A man painting walls with a dog in front
Ensure you leave your abode in excellent condition to get your deposit back

How to Document the Move-Out Process

Properly documenting the move-out process is crucial to protect yourself and ensure a smooth exit from your apartment. Here are some key steps to follow:

  • Conduct a thorough move-out inspection. Before vacating the premises, schedule a move-out inspection with your landlord or property manager. Walk through the apartment together and carefully examine each room, noting any damages, wear and tear, or maintenance issues that need to be addressed.
  • Document the condition of the apartment. Take detailed photographs or videos of the apartment’s condition during the move-out inspection. Capture any existing damage, stains, or issues that were present before your departure. This documentation serves as evidence and can prevent disputes over the condition of the apartment.
  • Address necessary repairs or cleaning. If there are damages beyond normal wear and tear or if specific cleaning requirements are outlined in your lease agreement, make arrangements to rectify them. This may involve hiring professional cleaners or contractors to ensure the apartment is returned to its original state.

By conducting a thorough move-out inspection, documenting the apartment’s condition through visual evidence, and addressing necessary repairs or move-out cleaning, you can effectively protect yourself and minimize potential disputes over damages or deductions from your security deposit.

The video below shows you how you should leave your rented space to get the deposit back.

YouTube video

When to Consult With a Professional and Seek Legal Advice

Consulting with a lawyer or tenant rights organization is crucial when facing complex legal situations related to breaking an apartment lease. These professionals can provide expert guidance and advice tailored to your specific circumstances. Whether you suspect your rights as a tenant have been violated, you’re experiencing discrimination, or you’re facing uncooperative landlords, seeking legal advice can help you understand your rights, navigate the legal complexities, and advocate for your best interests.

Consult With a Lawyer or Tenant Rights Organization

A lawyer specializing in landlord-tenant law can provide legal representation, review your lease agreement, negotiate on your behalf, and ensure compliance with applicable laws. Tenant rights organizations can offer resources, support, and information to help you understand your rights and take appropriate action.

Three people talking
If you're unsure of your rights, consult with a legal representative

Approach the Process With Clear Communication and Understanding

In the end, it’s important to thoroughly review your lease agreement, familiarize yourself with your rights and obligations, and be aware of any potential penalties or fees. Initiate open and respectful communication with your landlord or property management, clearly expressing your intentions and discussing available options.

By approaching the process with clear communication and understanding, you can navigate the lease-breaking process more effectively, minimize conflicts, and protect your interests. In the end, if you’ve done everything correctly, you can relocate more efficiently and keep your anxiety levels at bay.

Once you’ve made a decision to end your lease agreement and relocate to a small town or live under the big city lights, Long Distance Movers can guarantee a smooth transition. Contact us today, and let us help you plan your move and help with the logistics.


What Are Some Reasons Why Someone Would Want to Get Out of an Apartment Lease?

Some reasons why someone may want to get out of an apartment lease include job relocation, financial difficulties, health issues, or a need for more space (like relocating from a house to apartment).

Can I Break an Apartment Lease if I Find a Better Housing Opportunity?

Whether or not you can break an apartment lease depends on the terms of your lease agreement and state laws. However, finding a better housing opportunity may not be a valid reason for breaking a lease unless there are specific clauses in the lease agreement that allow for this.

What Are the Potential Consequences of Breaking an Apartment Lease?

The potential consequences of breaking an apartment lease can include losing your security deposit, being charged additional fees, and facing legal action from the landlord. Additionally, breaking a lease can make it difficult to rent another property in the future.

Is It Possible to Negotiate With the Landlord to Terminate the Lease Early?

It is possible to negotiate with the landlord to terminate the lease early, but this will depend on the landlord’s willingness to do so and the terms of your lease agreement.

Are There Any Legal Obligations I Should Be Aware of When Trying to Get Out of an Apartment Lease?

Yes, you should be aware of the legal obligations outlined in your lease agreement and state laws regarding breaking a lease. These obligations may include providing written notice to the landlord, paying any fees or penalties, and fulfilling any other requirements outlined in the lease agreement.

Can I Sublet My Apartment to Someone Else if I Need to Move Out Before the Lease Ends?

Whether or not you can sublet your apartment depends on the terms of your lease agreement and state laws. Some lease agreements explicitly prohibit subletting, while others may require the landlord’s approval.

What Steps Should I Take To Formally Notify My Landlord About My Intention to Terminate the Lease?

To formally notify your landlord about your intention to terminate the lease, you should provide written notice that includes the reason for termination, the date you intend to move out, and any other relevant details outlined in the lease agreement.

Are There Any Fees or Penalties Associated With Breaking an Apartment Lease?

Yes, there may be fees or penalties associated with breaking an apartment lease. These can include losing your security deposit, paying additional fees, and being held responsible for rent until a new tenant is found.

Can I Get My Security Deposit Back if I Break the Lease?

Whether or not you can get your security deposit back after breaking a lease depends on the terms of your lease agreement and state laws. In some cases, you may lose your security deposit if you break the lease.

What Options Do I Have if My Landlord Refuses to Let Me Out of the Lease Early?

If your landlord refuses to let you out of the lease early, you may have legal options available to you. This can include seeking legal representation or negotiating with the landlord to find a mutually beneficial solution.

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