How to Get Out of a Lease or Rental Agreement

When you're ready to buy your own place, timing is everything.

Strategies for getting out

You probably started house hunting well before your lease ended so you're not stuck without a place to live. But what if you suddenly find your dream home and you still have several months left on your current rental?

Don't get discouraged yet—it's time to let that optimism shine. There are legitimate ways to get out of a lease, and these strategies may work for you depending on your situation.

Read the terms of your lease

Before you take any action, read your lease carefully. Make sure you fully understand your options (if any) for early termination. In some cases, the penalty for breaking a rental agreement may be manageable and worth it.

Short of finding any loopholes, you may want to take your lease to a lawyer to see whether there are any errors or something you didn't detect that would allow you to get out of the agreement on your terms.

Have someone else take over your lease

When you read the rental agreement, you can also look for information on subletting the lease to other tenants. If your lease does allow you to sublet, it could be a win-win for both you and your landlord. You wouldn't be penalized for breaking a rental agreement early, and your landlord wouldn’t miss out on rental income.

Simply ask your landlord to work with you

If your lease is vague or leaves termination clauses open-ended, then you're in a good position to ask your landlord (nicely) if he or she is open to letting you out of your agreement early.

Some landlords are willing to make a deal depending on your history as a tenant, the current rental market and how easy it'll be for them to get new renters.

Think about what's in it for your landlord, or about how you could make your landlord's life easier, and offer that if you can. For example, if you're renting a house, you could offer to deep clean the space and be flexible with your schedule to allow for showings. You could also help connect your landlord with potential tenants.

Is your space uninhabitable?

As a tenant, you have a right to terminate a rental agreement without penalty if the living space is uninhabitable. It's on you to prove that, however, and you may need to attempt to contact your landlord about major issues—and give your landlord a chance to fix them—before you have a case

Above all, stay positive. Your real estate agent may be able to help you find a way to get out of a lease if the agent is aware of your situation. And if you've spotted the home you want, keep your mortgage loan professional informed and ready to assist as soon as it's time to make a move.

Keep it up. You're getting smarter about home buying.

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