How To Get Out Of A Lease Early Without Penalty

By: ROS Team

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A lease agreement is defined as a contract between tenant and landlord where the tenant agrees to pay rent for a set period.

Although you as a tenant might want to stay in the rental for the entire length of the lease, you never know when you need to move out earlier. This would consider breaking a lease. Violating a lease can lead to several legal consequences.

After all, a lease is defined as a legal agreement between you and your landlord. Those legal consequences generally include:

  • You could be sued by your landlord for the rent owed. You could be sued for breach of contract and damages.
  • You could end up getting an eviction on record (it will affect your credit score.)
  • You could face difficulty finding a new rental house due to poor credit and eviction.

However, there are some ways you can get out of the lease without penalty.

What’s In Your Rental Agreement?

First of all, make sure to read your rental agreement carefully while considering getting out of the lease. Explore each part to find out the conditions related to lease violation as well as its outcomes. Take note of words like “early release”, “sublet” and “relet”.

Some rental agreements let you terminate your lease earlier in case of job relocation, job loss, divorce, family health crises, and financial hardship.

Read Also: How to Rent Apartment with a Bad Credit

The contract might mention that you have to give the notice to vacate the property some months earlier or you have to get a replacement renter. Generally, lease agreements will also let you terminate the agreement ASAP, but they often make you pay huge fees and you might lose your security deposit.

Discuss it with Your Landlord:

Not all tenants are on good terms with their landlords. If you are one of them, clear communication and transparency is the best way to deal with a sensitive situation like vacating the property before the lease period expires.

You can inform them ahead of time by sending an email or meeting them in person. Even though your landlord looks for earning, they have sentiments. If you tell them the real reasons behind vacating the property before the stipulated time, they are likely to understand your situation. However, if you share a good rapport with your landlord, this can be pretty easy. Send notice to your landlord as soon as possible. Or you can get others to sublet from you (the next point will explain it).

Look for Your Replacement:

You can also find your landlord’s new renter if they agree. This is also termed as “mitigating the damages” from violating the apartment lease.

A new tenant can be found with two methods subletting and re-renting.

In subletting, someone is found by a tenant or landlord for taking over the existing lease agreement. Although they will have to sign their own agreement, the lease will still be under your name. It means that you will be liable if they fail to pay rent or cause damage to the property. Your security deposit will be sealed unless the original lease term (even with a subletter) gets over.

Re-renting is another way in which new renters will get into a new lease contract and submit their own security deposits. It simply means that you are not liable for their late payments or damages. You just move out with zero responsibility. Your landlord will have to re-list their rental unit again.

Other Reasons to Break Lease Without Penalty:

Many conditions let you get out of the lease without penalty.

  • If a property is not fit for living
  • If a landlord violates rules of entry or harasses renters
  • If a tenant is an active military duty member
  • If a tenant faces domestic violence in the property
  • If the apartment is illegal

Look for Termination Offers:

If you are not able to get a new tenant as you are required to move out immediately, you can ask for the termination offer mentioned in the contract. Opting for a termination offer means you will have to pay 2-3 months’ rent and lose your security as well.

However, you can talk to your landlord to get the termination charges minimized or get back your deposit.

This situation might be challenging, but it also undermines the landlord’s finances as rent is his primary livelihood.

Look for Local Tenants Association:

Many tenant associations in NYC can help you with lease termination. These unions also handle landlord tenant disputes. Besides, they help you know the specific laws in the city and state regarding leases.


Getting out of the lease before the set time is challenging for a tenant. It might lead to legal consequences and a sour landlord-tenant relationship as well. Here you need to maintain an open and transparent relationship with your landlord. As we have told you earlier the landlord should be informed earlier citing your reasons behind vacating the properties.

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