Is there a way that a tenant can break a lease early without paying a big fee if the tenant is moving out of state for a job?

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Is there a way that a tenant can break a lease early without paying a big fee if the tenant is moving out of state for a job?

I currently have a 12 month lease at my apartment. I may be offered a job out of the state that I want to accept. My lease on my current apartment doesn’t end for another 8 months. The fee to break the lease is $1200. In random conversations I’ve been told that there is a way to get out of that if you’re moving because of a job, or maybe even not have to pay the full amount. Is this true that this can be done legally?

Asked on April 28, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

No, this is not true. A lease is a contract; both parties are held to its terms, and the fact that it may be in a party's financial or other interest to escape the contractual obligations does not give him or her the right to do so. Having signed the lease, you are bound by its terms, for its full length or duration, unless the landlord violates the lease in some material (important) way or cannot give you possession of a habitable apartment/home. However, if the landlord is living up to the landlord's obligations, the fact that you have an out-of-state job offer is irrelevant; you would have to pay the fee to break the lease early (or if there was no early termination obligation, you'd have to pay rent for the remaining 8 months). If the opportunity is not worth the $1,200 fee, then it's probably not worth taking; alternately, if the lease does not restrict your ability to sublet or assign the lease, you may be able to find someone to rent from you (sublet) or take over the lease from you (assignment).


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