Breaking a Lease?

I lost my job about 2 months after renewing (was there for 6 months prior) my lease. I have 10 months left on the lease, but I am not able to afford the place anymore. Everyone is so informative on here. Does anyone know of any loopholes to get out of a lease?


If I had a choice I would stay, the landlords are so nice, but I can't even afford groceries.

By Tina from Orange County CA

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July 19, 20090 found this helpful

Breaking a lease is tricky; you're legally obligated to pay the rent for the full term. I think your best bet is to have an honest talk with your landlord. Tell them your situation and they might be willing to work out some flexible rent payment terms. A lot of people are having financial problems now, so hopefully they'll be understanding. I think landlords are happier working with tenants rather than runnning the risk of having them default completely.


If you really decide you can't afford the rent see if they might be willing to advertise the place (or you advertise), with you agreeing to pay rent until they can find another tenant. In effect the new tenant would be taking over your lease. I've done this before when I had to move mid-lease, so it might be an option.

Good luck, hope you get things sorted!

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July 19, 20090 found this helpful

This happened to me. (With a small business) I always paid on time, but once I moved out & closed the business I couldn't afford the rest of the lease. I was lucky the owners didn't contact a collection agency & let it slide (very rare!) so it didn't affect my credit rating. But the problem is, you may not be able to rent another place once this goes on your credit record!


Talk to the actual owner about your situation (not just the manager, but the OWNER of the property). Tell them your story & ask if you can work something out. Maybe you can work around the place & help clean apartments or work in the yard. Who knows if they'll work with you, but it's worth a try. If there's a manager, they work for the owners, so they have to play by the rules & can't bend them. Ask for the OWNERS phone number & talk to THEM. It will help if you've been paying your rent on time (for the most part) up till now. Once I had a problem that my apartment manager couldn't help me with, but the owner listened to me & helped with my situation (moving my adult son in with me without a good credit rating) I was surprised how helpful the owner was (because I always paid my rent on time) & several years later I had the opportunity to help him.


The owner may let you find another suitable renter to sub-lent the place. This person would have to have a deceit credit rating & be acceptable to them. They'd have to pay YOU the rent, then you'd have to pay the landlord. Ask them if you can sub-lent the place. You may have to run an add in the paper to find a renter. On the down side: You would be responsible for any damages to the place as it would still be in your name till the lease runs out & they change it to their name. It's best to sub-lent to someone you know VERY well! & like I said, you'd have to first find a responsible person, then clear it with the owner. He may let you out of your lease if you did this, (found a suitable renter) or you may still have to keep the place in you name till the lease is up as you sub-lent.


As a last resort, you can contact Legal Aid for help & also the Salvation Army may be able to steer you in the right direction with more info because they deal with this stuff all the time.

I'll be praying for you. I wish you the very best! I know how tough it can be these days!

PS. Have you thought of getting a roommate. That's what my sister did to keep her place. If you live in a one bedroom place you could get a hide-a-bed & use the living room to sleep in & let the roommate have the bedroom. This is how my sister kept her place. I slept in the living room & let my kids have the 2 bedrooms when I lived in my last apartment. It's wasn't that bad. At least I had a roof over my head! There are lots of people who need a place to rent that's affordable. Ask around at churches. You can also get a foreign exchange student (if they have their own bedroom) or do day-care on the side for extra cash.

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July 21, 20090 found this helpful

Unemployed----check wiith your local and state laws. Years ago I knew someone in CA who broke a lease and the court made him still pay thru till the end of it.


So check with state laws before trying to break it. It could save you thousands of dollars.

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July 21, 20090 found this helpful

I am a property manager in Oregon. Here, at least for our company, the only thing to break a lease is military and domestic violence. You can google the landlord tenant act in your state and find out more.

If someone breaks a lease here, they have a one month break lease fee, plus any concessions they got when they moved in, plus the month they are in. But, they are not required to pay the entire balance of the year. That would be illegal, since they will rerent the property.

When that happens here, and it has lately, the renter simply gives the owner a forwarding address and they can make payment arrangements.

I can tell you that a good rental history is more important than you know. Do everything you can to keep that. Sometimes, when someone paid their rent on time and left a spotless apartment, they did something that was bad enough to give a resounding "no" when asked if they would be accepted back as a resident. That alone can kill future chances.

Good Luck.

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July 21, 20090 found this helpful

The very thing you describe happened to me, just over a year ago. Like you, I had a wonderful landlord. Unfortunately, though, I had to make a choice; stay there and end up evicted anyway, for not being able to afford my rent OR move to a new apt. complex where the rent was subsidized and the utilities included. Emotionally, it was tough, but I did what was best for myself and my son. I thought, long and hard, and made sure I was certain of what I wanted to do.

Then, I called the landlord and asked him if he had time to talk. He agreed, and I told him the situation. I told him I was very sorry to have to do this, but that it would be best for me and my son. He said he understood the situation, but asked if I realized I'd still be held responsible for the remainder of the lease! I was NOT happy about that; however, I knew- by law- he was well within his rights to do that. I told him, that if it wasn't for my financial situation and being offered a deal I couldn't pass up on the new apt., there's no way I would move. I LOVED it there, and I really did like my landlord and neighbors.

I told him I would keep him up-to-date on the progress of the situation, which I did. Despite the fact that I moved before the end of the month, I went ahead and paid him for the NEXT month, because, I thought it would be the right thing to do. I moved into my new apt. the very next month... where I also had to pay for that month's rent, as well. The only difference was, that rent was about 1/3 of what I paid at the other apt., so I could swing it.

It is a little over a year later, and not only did my previous landlord not seek the remainder of the rent I owed on my lease, but things could not be better for me, financially! I am very pleased with where we currently live. I'm definitely not saying it will be easy, but you did mention you had a nice landlord. I suggest, you contact your landlord and ask to speak with him/her. When you do, make sure you let them know how very much you like them and how thankful you are to have met/rented from such wonderful people. Then, go on to explain your situation.

The very worst they can say, is, "no," and that still does not stop you from moving. In the end, you may very well have some debt over your head, but you would have that anyway, if you continue to live in a place you cannot afford. Move on with your life, putting this chapter behind you and live life the way it's meant to be lived! This is a minor setback, and if you continue to strive for better things will certainly work out, and you will be better off- financially AND emotionally!- for it=) Hope this helps!

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July 21, 20090 found this helpful

Dude, check your laws on this first. You might be able to '"sub-lease" Good luck

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July 22, 20090 found this helpful

My sympathies go out to you. Other people have covered the concrete stuf. Would your landlord give you a break if you could find someone else qualified to take over the lease....not sublease, but up-front, transfer the lease?
If the landlord's a good one, use your best writing skills and write a classified ad and post it on CraigsList, bulletin boards nearby and/or near colleges (it's that time of the year). Give the good points of the apartment and see if you can find anyone who would like it. You talk to them and "prequalify" before presenting them to your landlord. The best of luck and may life change around for you soon. Take care.

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