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Are there any legal ways to break an apartment lease due to job loss?

Charlotte, NC |

My fiance and I are currently in an apartment rental lease until February 2013. My fiance lost his job last month and his unemployment may take several more weeks to come in. There is no way we can come up with the money we need by September 5th and still provide for our two children. We technically have until the 13th of the month, but after the 8th you are charged a $30 late fee plus a $250 lawyers fee. However, we were late once before (after the 8th; the only time we were late in 2 years) and they only allow one late payment. Even if we spent no money at all on food, power, car insurance (etc), we STILL wouldnt have enough. How can i legally get out of this lease and/or what can I do to avoid having a huge bill to pay after eviction?

Attorney Answers 1


Review your lease, carefully. Most leases have clauses for terminating a lease early. You need to find the amount of notice required to break the lease. Additionally, you may save on penalties if you can continue to occupy and pay for your domicile until the landlord re-rents it. Of course, landlords have to make a good faith effort to do so. Make it clear to your landlord that you lost your job and won't be able to continue rent payments beyond a certain date. This gives the landlord incentive to find a new tenant quickly.

Unless you have a month-to-month lease, you'll probably lose some money by terminating your lease. Usually, you'll lose your security deposit. Some leases allow you to leave if you forfeit your deposit and and already paid last month's rent. Others demand a specific penalty fee in addition to these monies. In the worst case, your lease might require you to pay out the remainder of the lease term. However, leases -- and landlord-tenant regulations -- usually allow for a tenant to be released from this obligation if the premises are re-rented. If your jurisdiction doesn't offer this protection and your lease doesn't have an out for re-rental, you may be forced to find a subletting tenant yourself to avoid paying several months of rent.

You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this Web site or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between Attorney Shara Danielle Harris and the user or browser. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of Avvo.

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