broken piggy bank - break my leaseThe deal is unbelievable! Too good to pass up! Despite all the pitfalls of home ownership that you’ve read on this blog, your going to buy your own house. Or maybe you’re getting married – congratulations! Or maybe, sadly, you’re getting divorced. Whatever is going on, that pesky apartment lease just doesn’t fit into your future plans any more and you need to get out of your lease.

But I Want to Get Out of My Lease!

Last time, we were talking about the consequences and potential problems with breaking your lease, namely that you could get stuck owing rent on a vacant apartment. Sometimes this problem is a no brainer – the landlord has plenty of other prospects waiting to take your apartment and all you need to do is make sure that a new tenant is signed or that you are otherwise released from your old lease.

On other occasions, like when there are already other vacancies that aren’t moving, it can be more complicated. That’s when you are going to want to grab the bull by the horns and rent the apartment yourself. Just be sure that once you get that qualified applicant that you run everything through the landlord.

Finding Someone To Take Over Your Lease

But how do you find a qualified applicant to get out of my lease? Obviously, you can tell your friends and family about the availability of your old digs, but that may not get the job done. What you may need to do is start an advertising and marketing campaign. Craigslist is a wonderful free resource anyone can use to rent apartments. One secret to success on Craigslist – you’ve got to have pictures. So take plenty of pictures of your apartment, the building and even any neighborhood amenities. If your location is near a park or has unique views or other special features, be sure to talk that up and prove it with pictures. In short, what you’re doing is talking about all the reasons you rented your apartment in the first place.

Next, you may want to explore what I call the shared pain remedy. For example, if your employer is transferring you, does the company have a transfer policy involving them picking up the cost of your move, including a lease on your old apartment?

Finally, you may want to change your plans. Can that wedding day be postponed? If you’re getting divorced, could one partner stay in the lease? Maybe taking responsibility for the lease needs to be one of the conditions addressed in the divorce. Can you commute to the new job for a while, at least until your lease expires? Can you postpone the closing of the house?

If affordability is the issue, can you get a loan from a family member or friend? What about a part time job or some overtime at your present job? Would the landlord even be willing to employ you at the apartment complex? There are social service agencies that also help with rent in an emergency, Maximus, and the Salvation Army are just two that come to mind, and your situation may qualify, particularly if the landlord has threatened eviction.

Let’s assume for a moment that despite your best efforts and your willingness to change plans, nothing is going to prevent your move and your old apartment is going to sit vacant. There are still some options left that are better than others.

The worst option is just to ignore the situation and disappear in the middle of the night. You would be surprised at the sophistication of landlords these days at skip tracing and finding folks that need to be found. Unless you want to work for cash, ditch your credit cards and change your name, chances are, your landlord is eventually going to catch up with you, particularly if the balance is substantial.

The better choice then is to again, talk to your landlord. You may be able to negotiate your way out of a lease in exchange for a lump sum payment or in exchange for a payment plan. Maybe once you get back on your feet, you could even later negotiate a discount on the payment plan by offering a lump sum payment. The possibilities are endless, but you won’t know what they are without talking to your landlord.