Shared Housing

How Much Does it Cost to Break a Lease?

Alcove Team · 6/10/22

How Much Does it Cost to Break a Lease?

Moving is not an easy task and if you live in a rental, you might have to break your lease to do it. In most leases, it is required that a tenant provides at least one month’s notice that they wish to vacate the property. If you want to break your lease before its time is up, you may have to negotiate an agreement with your landlord in order to avoid costly fees. This price is typically determined by the circumstances and how flexible the landlord is.

If your reason for leaving abruptly is understandable, many landlords are understanding and willing to work with the tenant to create a reasonable exit strategy. Circumstances like a job relocation or a change in health may prove to be an acceptable reasons. While this is ideal, landlords are not required to be flexible and release financial obligations that the tenant agreed upon when signing a binding lease. Because this is a legal contract, the tenant may be required to continue paying the set payments throughout the lease. To learn more about how to break your lease, read below.

Justified reasons to break your lease

While there are lots of good reasons to end a lease, there are several that may be legally acceptable too. Listed below are some examples that can help you legally avoid paying high fees.

  • Relocation due to military orders

  • The property is not healthy or safe to live in

  • The unit is not in working condition and your landlord refuses to fix the damages (broken plumbing, electrical, etc.)

  • Your lease includes an early termination clause and you’ve experienced a change such as job loss or transfer

How to break a lease

Here are a few ways that you can break your lease and potentially avoid paying high fees.

1. Negotiation

In many cases, landlords are reasonable and understanding of the need to move for both professional and personal reasons. Keeping a respectful relationship with your landlord throughout your tenancy, including things like paying rent on time and willingness to help replace your tenancy, will help you be more likely to avoid high lease termination fees. Legally, you are still required to pay rent through the end of your agreement. Talking to your landlord as soon as possible should help improve your chances of terminating the lease without a large penalty.

2. Finding a replacement tenant 

Once you have notified your landlord that you will be terminating your lease, your landlord will need to find a new tenant. When terminating your lease early, your landlord may ask you to help the search for a replacement tenant. Websites such as Craigslist and have made it easy to find people searching for a lease. If a replacement is not found, the tenant will still be legally responsible for the remaining rent. If a new tenant is eventually found, the former tenant will no longer be responsible for the remaining costs. Something to keep in mind is that if the unit is rented for a lower price, the former tenant may have to pay the difference in cost throughout the duration of the original lease.

3. Subletting

A sublease is when you, the original tenant, find another person to pay the monthly rent. You, the original tenant, are still responsible under the lease agreement which you signed, but a new agreement is written between you and the subleaser. This is common in cities with students who may not need housing for the entire year, or interns living in a different city for a summer. An important note is that not all lease agreements permit subletting. If it is not explicitly clear in your lease agreement, it would be best to discuss with your landlord the situation. 

Still deciding where to live?

If you are deciding where to live next, check out Alcove’s shared living options. We offer cheaper rates than a normal studio apartment and help make moving easy!