Help me get out!

chandloxAugust 6, 2010


I recently became married. However, my husband is not on the lease. HE received a job transfer 5 states away and we need to move in a month. The apartment complex is government-subsidized and they say they don't allow people to break lease for job transfers. There is 6 months left on my lease, and the Landlord told me to leave id have to pay it in full.

my question is, how can I get out of my lease without owing them money? if I just disappear and vacate the apartment, and dont pay rent what will happen?

Please help, and thank you.

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First, you need to find out what the laws are in your state. Google "[your state] landlord tenant laws" and see what comes up. Second, you need to read your lease very carefully.

There are two crucial pieces of information that you need to find. One is if there are any laws in place or clauses in your lease that allow you to break the lease. Usually this does involve paying the landlord a month or two of rent, but that would be better than paying for 6 months for an apartment you can't use. There are some states that allow for lease breaking if you are moving over a certain number of miles away, for example. Or your lease may have information about breaking the lease.

Most of the time, if you can break your lease, you still have to pay a month's rent, or even two month's rent. You should be prepared to pay out something in order to get out of the lease, if that is possible. Your landlord expected to have that unit filled and producing rent for another 6 months. He will most likely lose at least one month's rent, as he will need to clean and possibly repaint or re-carpet, advertise and show the unit and do the paperwork involved with renting to a new tenant. It is not unreasonable for a landlord to expect to be compensated for this. He wasn't planning on doing this for months, and usually if you are not renewing your lease, you have to give two or three months notice, which gives the landlord more time to find a new tenant.

Second, you need to find out if your state requires your landlord to make a good faith attempt to re-rent your apartment once you have given official notice that you are leaving. Many states require that the landlord try to rent the unit out, instead of just sitting back and doing nothing but collecting the rent on an unoccupied unit.

However, you did sign a contract agreeing to pay the rent for a year. And that contract is legally binding. Usually, the worst a landlord will do is report the lack of payment to the credit reporting agencies, where it goes on your credit rating for about 7 years. If you were to need a loan, say a mortgage, during this time, this would affect your chances. You might still be able to get the loan, but at less than optimal terms. The debt might also be turned over to a collection agency.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 2:08PM
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I thought of another avenue for you to explore. You said that this was government subsidized housing. You can check with whatever agency oversees this housing to see if they have any rules about breaking the lease.

You can also try subletting the apartment, if your lease allows for that. Even if you can't sublet, if you can find a new tenant who qualifies for the housing, that person could lease the apartment and you would be off the hook.

And if you do leave the apartment and it is not re-rented and you are still paying rent, have someone check every so often to see if it is occupied. The landlord cannot collect rent from you and from a new tenant. It's against the law.

And I know you won't want to do this, but if you have a job where you are now, you could stay where you are for another six months until the lease is up, while your husband goes ahead and finds a new place for the two of you.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 8:38PM
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Another issue is, that you were an eligible tenant for the subsidized occupancy.
If so, would you still be with your spouses income, and if not, did you report this to the governing agency?
Because if you were not, your tenancy has changed and would have caused a new lease to have had to have been negotiated.
You may be required to reimburse for overpayment of subsides.
When you approach this you need to take into consideration the length of time that it took to have the job offer confirmed and accepted and if you would actually have renegotiated a new lease at this location.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 12:29PM
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