Life happens. If you’re relocating to Houston, Texas because of a job offer, educational opportunity, or other chance that’s just too good to pass up, you may need to get out of a long-term lease before you move. Breaking a lease without notice or negotiation is one of the biggest mistakes a renter can make, but if you need to get out early, there are ways to do it without ruining your credit or your rental history.
Plan ahead, if possible
Of course, the best plan is to avoid getting into a lease lasts longer than you’re willing to stay. Before you sign a lease, check out all of the details of your apartment and your agreement thoroughly to make sure that there are no deal-breaking surprises down the line. Also consider how long you are likely to stay. If you may need to move out of the area in less than one year, look for a shorter-term lease, or ask your potential landlord if you can negotiate one. Whether or not you can get a shorter lease, be sure to ask what your landlord’s policy is on subletting or getting an “early release” in exchange for paying a set fee (such as two months’ rent).
If you must break a lease before the term is up, these steps will help you minimize the damage to your credit, your rental history, and your pocketbook:
Find out if legal reasons to break a lease apply to you
By the laws of most states, there are some situations in which the tenant can move out without penalties before the lease is over. Landlords everywhere are required to provide a quiet and habitable residence, so if yours is not making repairs that are vital to your health and safety, or you have severe noise problems, you may have reason to move out. Many states, including Texas, also allow tenants to break leases if they’re called to military service, or to get out of a situation of domestic violence. If any of these situations apply to you, you will have to provide notice to your landlord and provided documentation of your situation (usually including an order of protection, in the case of domestic violence).
Find a subletter
If you’re moving for any other reason, find out whether you can sublet your apartment for the rest of your lease. A few states allow subletting no matter what, but in most (including Texas), your landlord must give the okay for you to re-rent your apartment to another tenant. In any case, you must let your landlord know you’ll be moving on, and who will be moving in to take your place.
If all else fails, negotiate, and be willing to pay a (reasonable) price
Even if you can’t sublet or break the lease for a legally protected reason, do not simply walk away from your lease. Tell your landlord what’s happening, and be willing to negotiate. You may have to pay a fee or continue paying rent for a month or two while your landlord finds a new tenant, but your landlord is required by law to mitigate the damage by finding a new tenant as quickly as possible. Know your rights, and negotiate a deal that’s fair for everyone.
When you’re ready to find your next apartment, Houston Apartment Insiders is here to guide your search. Call us at 713-701-1520 (866-918-4022 toll free) or contact us online.