For those who know anything about renting and apartment living, you know that breaking a lease can be a difficult thing to pull off. Your lease will no doubt state harsh penalties for breaking the lease early (from a few months rent to the remaining rent owed as part of your lease). While you can try and argue with your landlord, the fact of the matter is they’ve got you.
If you are interested in attempting to get out of your lease early the suggested initial approach is to write a very official, and business-like letter to your property manager explaining in a stern, yet non-threatening manner, your reasons for wanting out of your lease. These reasons should relate to the landlord’s failure to comply with the law, and/or their failure to fulfill their obligations as set forth in the lease. For example, by law tenants are entitled to livable, safe and sanitary conditions. Landlord’s cannot enforce lease provisions or other agreements that breach the tenants warrant of habitability. Most standard lease agreements also include a clause relating to the quiet enjoyment of the property, and if you are unable to enjoy your property due to excessive noise, threatening neighbors, etc. you maybe able to site these matters when justifying the early lease termination (see the list of tenant rights below). You should include a list of the actions you’ve taken to make the landlord aware of the situation (phone calls, letters, talks with the manager, etc.). Below you will find a document template (names are excluded and some adjustments may be needed)
Dear [property manager name],
I am writing to inform you that we wish to terminate our lease early due to the ongoing dissatisfaction with the quality of life provided to us by the [apartment name] apartments. While we have always been pleased with the cooperation and understanding of you and the apartment management to our situation, the fact remains that the environment in our apartment is substandard, specifically with regard to the noises generated by neighboring units. Our complaints, as well as those of other tenants of this prohibitive conduct as specified in the Apartment Lease Contract have not changed the situation nor have they provided the ‘peace and quiet enjoyment’ the [apartment name] is required to provide (Section 11, Rules and Regulations).
As such, it is our desire to be released from our lease without fault on [desired early lease termination date]. You can expect our full cooperation in showing the apartment during our remaining occupation to facilitate its immediate rental, and prevent the [apartment name] from any financial losses. I hope that our immediate rental payment history and good-standing account sufficiently indicates our continued accountability and sincerity.
Again, we appreciate all the attempts that you have undertaken as property manager to alleviate our dissatisfaction but have decided that it is in both parties’ best interests for us to vacate the unit. Please let us know the feasibility of our request and if we can do anything to make the process proceed smoothly and to your satisfaction. Also, please let us know if you would like us to speak directly with any other management parties about our request.
Thank you, again, for the consideration.
If your landlord doesn’t respond favorably to your attempt at the matter, you have a few more options, all of escalating implications:
- If unsanitary conditions exist, simply threaten to contact the County Health and Code Enforcement Departments. If building or fire hazards exist, threaten to contact your local municipal Building Inspector or the Fire Department.
- Negotiate with your landlord. If you’re on good terms with your landlord, come out and explain your situation honestly. The landlord (or property management company) can elect to let you out of the lease, even without an opt-out clause. See if you can do anything to “sweeten the for the landlord, such as finding a replacement renter, or propose a sum to buy your way out. (Get anything you agree to with your landlord in writing)
- See about subletting. Look at your lease agreement and see what your rights are regarding
subletting the apartment to someone else. While some forbid the practice, others may create
allowances for subleasing your apartment to someone for the balance of the agreement. If the
agreement is unclear about subleasing, talk with your landlord about your plan and get an
agreement in writing. (Recognize you?re risking your security deposit if the subletter doesn?t take
care of the place.
- Get a real estate lawyer to write a letter on your behalf (the letterhead alone may be worth more than the contents, so if you have an attorney friend it may be worth hitting them up for the favor.
- Contact the Better Business Bureau to try and resolve the situation. You may want to notify your property manager that this is a next step at some point. In most instances they won’t want this hassle and may be willing to cooperate.
- Exercise your right to free speech and share your experience on the internet. Do a search for apartment reviews and let others know about your experiences. If you can’t get out of your situation, at least make sure others don’t suffer.
If your landlord agrees to allow you to sublease the property my team and I can assist you in locating a party to sublease your unit, and/or finding additional housing. We would be more than happy to answer any questions on this subject, or any other real estate matters and invite you to send us an email, or give us a call and let us know how we can help!
Your Rights as a Renter
Yes you do have rights and they include the following:
1. Your apartment (or house) must be safe and clean to live in. It must meet state and local building codes, housing codes, health requirements, zoning ordinances, etc.
2. The appliances must work. Check the refrigerator, stove and garbage disposal if so equipped.
3. The heat must work.
4. The toilets and hot water heater must work.
5. The door locks must work.
6. The roof cannot leak. Look for stains on ceilings, inside closets and around the floors.
7. The windows must work – they cannot be sealed shut, or inoperable.