Now we know all you guys are secretly dreaming of a home, and you should be with all that we have been saying, but I’ve been hearing that the prospect of breaking your apartment lease has given you nightmares, the shakes, and all kinds of unpleasant feelings. Tsk, Tsk, I say, young padawan learners (those of you who are not Star Wars fans will have totally lost the connotation of this phrase). This should not keep you from taking advantage of interest rates (3.5 are you kidding me?) or the fact that home prices are no longer taking a dive. I just heard personally from the Chief Economist of the NAR that home prices are not only recovering, but on track for a 23.5% increase by the year 2019. Now, couple that with paying down a mortgage….you do the math on how much equity you gain in a measly 5 years! (I say you do the math…cause my calculator is on the phritz…lol)
Now, for the biggest hang up….the lease! A lease isn’t always an iron-clad agreement with all the rights on the side of your landlord as you may be thinking and stressing over. Of course, buying a home isn’t the only reason to break a lease. There are many reasons to break a lease: Your job may have changed, you might find the rent too steep, or you may have lost a loved one who used to share the space with you. Here are a few things you can do to help extract yourself from the situation:
1. Find the opt-out clause. You may not have read your lease very carefully, (and you are not alone my young Padawan…Star Wars again…) when you were excited to move in, but now is the time to go back and pick it apart with a fine-toothed comb. Many leases will have clauses which allow you to legally break your obligation to stay for the full-term of the agreement. This might involve a fee of some kind, but can often be worth the expense if the conditions are right.
2. 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 pot” 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.) I don’ tol’ you and tol’ you…there is no such thing as a verbal contract in Real Estate.
3. 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.)
4. Go to mediation. If you can’t come to common terms, consider enrolling the help of a mediator. Local housing advocates and “renter’s rights” groups may be able to connect you with people who can help.
This all assumes, of course, that you’re not leaving because your landlord is a deadbeat. If you’re battling a landlord who refuses to fix up the place or otherwise has been combative, you may have a legal case to make to break your lease. The key is documentation. Document everything with photo or video evidence, and keep meticulous records of your complaints.
Shouldn’t your monthly payment be paying you instead of a landlord? Give us a call and we will walk you through the first steps toward home ownership. 801.819.9005