Unfortunately, we aren’t all psychics. This means that however well-intentioned and confident we are when signing a lease agreement, your life may simply change in a way where successfully keeping the agreement is inconvenient or impossible. When the changes happen, it can be daunting to review your lease and see the penalties and fees associated with making the necessary changes to accommodate your new situation. There is hope for breaking your lease without breaking your bank.
You most likely signed a lease to reside where you’re currently living; however, the finer points may not be easy to remember. It’s good practice to keep a copy, either digital or physical to review when considering adjusting or asking for changes. Take time to truly read your lease, if there is anything you don’t understand, reach out to your landlord or legal counsel. There is usually a clause that gives you options.
While New York is vastly different from many of the other cities in the USA, it still often maintains the same fundamentals. Meaning… your landlord doesn’t have to and may not change their terms, but don’t throw in the towel yet. The turbulent market can be a benefit to you. Here’s a thought, let’s say the unit across the street is going for higher price since last year and it’s identical to yours.
Convince your landlord that once you leave, end your lease, there is an opportunity to make money rather than lose it! Offering your help in finding your replacement once they settle on their new price will eliminate some stress. Your landlord may grant your request to break your lease peacefully and perhaps even give you a pat on the back. It can take time to execute this method, but there are two more.
Commonly if the price is right, the landlord is agreeable to ending your lease early. Said price can be in the range of 2 months rent upfront in exchange of allowing you to leave obligation free, but each landlord is different. Some other arrangements may be daily fees; what’s important is making sure any subsequent agreements are documented as well as payments made. Look into the future and make sure the terms make sense on short and mid-term timeframe because things may not go according to plan. At the end of the day, agree to something you can maintain.
Permission & Assignment
While similar to subletting, assignment is different because the primary or original tenant is no longer obligated to serve as a liable source if the secondary or new tenant doesn’t abide by their agreement. An assignment is essentially legally removing the rights and obligations the original tenant had, associated the space, and transferring them to new tenant. In completing an assignment, you remove yourself from the obligations and the physical property. It is the most attractive option for many, but it is significantly more difficult to achieve and receive permission to do from the landlord.
The Disappearing Act
As simple and stress-free it may seem to just skip out on your lease, the landlord most likely had your personally identifiable information. This combined with the signed legal agreement to lease the property, there is a high probability that you will end up with an ugly mark on your credit, a legal claim demanding payment chasing you around wherever you go, and a bad rental history. With that in mind, it may not be worth it. It leads to financial stress, difficulty finding your next place, and long-standing credit issues. Exhaust all of your options, talk to your landlord, begin searching for your replacement as early as possible, and keep your options open. Make sure in the event of an unexpected event or change you can be flexible and adjust!