Signing a lease on a new apartment is an exciting fresh start to a new chapter in your life. However, a lease is also a commitment.  So what happens if you break an apartment lease early?

Unfortunately, breaking an apartment lease does typically come with some consequences. You’ll need to consider the pros and cons before making this decision. Here’s everything you need to know about terminating your lease early. 

Consequences of Breaking a Lease Early

There are a variety of reasons you might consider breaking your lease. Maybe you got a new job in a different location, have had changes in your personal life or are even considering buying a home.

Regardless of your reason, the outcome of this decision varies based on the terms of your lease and your apartment community’s policies. Below, you’ll find general examples of how breaking a lease early can impact you. 

Financial Consequences

Most management companies charge residents a termination fee when breaking a lease. Laws vary from state to state, but in most cases, you’ll need to give your landlord at least 60 days’ notice. If you don’t provide proper notice, you may be responsible for rent for the remainder of the lease. Every lease is different, so be sure to read yours closely before making a decision. 

The exact cost of early termination varies by apartment, but the average cost to break an apartment lease is equivalent to two to four month’s rent. If you’re moving into another apartment immediately, you’ll also likely need to pay additional security deposits and moving costs, which add up quickly. 

Impact on Credit Score

Does breaking an apartment lease affect your credit? Luckily, breaking a lease doesn’t automatically hurt your credit score. 

However, if you fail to pay your early termination fee, back rent or any other costs associated with your apartment, your landlord can refer your account to a collection agency. This would ultimately hurt your credit score, which is why it’s so important to promptly pay any charges associated with your lease. 

Legal Consequences

It is possible you could experience legal consequences for breaking a lease. In some situations, landlords can take legal action to collect rent through the end of the lease rather than giving residents the option to pay an early termination fee. 

However, this situation is rare. Since legal action is time-consuming and expensive, most landlords prefer to charge a lease termination fee. This will be specified in your lease agreement or provided in writing when you inquire about your lease-break options. Additionally, some states have laws that give renters the right to break leases without legal consequences. 

Future Renting Implications

Breaking a lease now can make it more difficult to rent an apartment in the future. Landlords, especially property management companies, may be hesitant to rent to residents who have broken their lease in the past. 

Reasons Someone Breaks Their Lease

Unfortunately, life doesn’t always go according to plan; there are many reasons someone might consider breaking their lease. Although breaking a lease can be stressful, it also serves as a lesson learned for future rental agreements. Let’s look at a few common reasons renters break their leases. 

Breaking a Lease for Personal Reasons

Many people experience sudden changes in their personal life that prevent them from staying in their current apartment. This could happen when a renter needs to move to another city on short notice, whether it be for a new job, a family emergency or something else. 

It’s also common for renters to break leases due to chanes in roommate circumstances. For example, if you’re living with a significant other and decide to part ways, you may opt to break the lease and find your own apartment. 

You might also discover that you’re not as compatible with your roommates as you had hoped. Of course, it’s best to try to work these issues out, but in some cases, breaking the lease might be the best option. 

Can You Break an Apartment Lease to Buy a House?

Many landlords will allow you to break a lease to buy a house as long as you pay a pre-specified termination fee and give at least 60 days’ notice. 

For many people transitioning into homeownership, it’s worth paying an early termination fee to get out of an apartment lease. However, you’ll need to read your lease closely and make sure your landlord has a lease-break clause in place in order to do this. 

How to Navigate Breaking an Apartment Lease

If you need to break your lease, here’s what to do to make the process easier. 

Communicate With Your Landlord

If you’re even considering breaking your lease, start by getting in touch with your landlord and asking about your options. Be open, honest and responsive. This will help the move-out process go as smoothly as possible. 

Understanding Your Lease Agreement

Always keep a copy of your lease agreement on hand and refer to it when breaking an apartment lease. The lease agreement or supporting documents will outline what happens when a lease is broken and what options you have as a renter. If you’re confused by any part of your lease agreement, ask your landlord to thoroughly explain it before you make a decision.

Once you’ve read through your lease agreement and talked with your landlord, you’ll need to weigh the financial implications and the average cost to break an apartment lease. If you only have a month or two left in your apartment, it may be cheaper to continue paying rent than to pay an early termination fee. 

Find Your Next Apartment With Southern Management

Although there are some situations that make breaking a lease inevitable, it’s best to avoid it if possible. Before signing a lease for a new apartment, review the lease-break policies and options with your landlord or leasing office to avoid any future confusion. 

Looking for a new place to call home in the Baltimore or Washington, D.C. metro areas? Southern Management has apartments available for rent throughout the region. Get in touch today to learn more or to schedule a tour.