Author Topic: Should I break my lease?  (Read 3696 times)

clarkai

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 217
Should I break my lease?
« on: October 26, 2015, 01:56:36 PM »
We are renting a house right now for $1050 a month. After living here for four months, I don't think it's right for us. It's expensive, too big for two people, and has a large yard that we are not currently happy to have to keep up. Already asked the landlord if we could add another renter, and they said they'd increase the rent if we did.

The cost of breaking the lease is one month's rent, and it looks like we could get an apartment for 600 to 700 dollars, including some utilities.

About the only thing going for our current place is that it's a five minute commute by car from my work (it's dark when I get to work and I don't feel safe biking). The new place would be a fifteen minute commute by car for me, but a walking commute for my husband, who currently buses.

I feel bad breaking the lease, but it seems like the right choice for us. Any input or advice?

CheapskateWife

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1392
  • Location: Central TX...but getting ready to hit the road
  • Countdown to fire in 3-2-1
Re: Should I break my lease?
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2015, 02:09:46 PM »
Sure seems like a win win, and if you aren't happy with the current situation, you have a very civil way out.  A landlord who you give adequate notice and cooperate with will likely not burn you on a reference down the road.  So I would go for it and make sure you do whatever you can to smooth the transition for the landlord (ie keep the place clean and accessible so he/she can show it to new prospective tenants)

DaveR

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 244
Re: Should I break my lease?
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2015, 02:25:01 PM »
Assuming a 12mo lease, 4mo into it and another little bit to get moved, we'll say 7mo left. That works out to 7 * $1050 = $7,350.
If you move, those 7 months cost you the new rent (say $700 worst case) plus the 1050 to break the lease: 7 * $700 = $4900 + 1050 = $5,950.

You come out $1,400 ahead if you break the lease. From a numbers standpoint, it makes sense. Do you feel $1400 bad about breaking the lease? Commute change seems like a wash, but is there $1400 of gain/pain in the change?

I'm not factoring in utilities or upkeep of the options, but the differences would have to be pretty significant to offset the $1400 / 7 = $200/mo difference in costs.

AZDude

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1298
Re: Should I break my lease?
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2015, 03:54:18 PM »
Why do you feel bad? This is a business transaction. Hand over the money and break the lease. Only thing I would advise is to be sure to keep the place in great condition. Landlord might decide to try to "stick it to you" for leaving early by hitting you with trumped up charges for any minor damage.

DoubleDown

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1989
Re: Should I break my lease?
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2015, 03:32:52 PM »
You could try advertising the place on Craigslist and consider sweetening the deal for the prospective renter to take over your lease. For example, perhaps pay the new renter $200 towards their first month's rent. If you bring your landlord a qualified renter, he/she should be very happy to have someone take over your lease so they don't have any vacancy or transition to deal with. In that scenario, they should not charge you any cancellation fee. Just discuss it with the landlord up front, let them know you'd like to give it a shot to find a replacement so you won't have a cancellation fee, and they will likely be happy to oblige since it is no work for them. I've done this successfully before, it was simple and took only about a week to find a good renter to take over my lease.

By the way, in many or even most jurisdictions, a landlord cannot charge a fee for breaking the lease if you bring them a qualified renter who will take over the lease such that the landlord suffers no loss. You can research your own jurisdiction in advance of talking to the landlord. Then if the landlord seems to scoff at the idea just so they can try to stick you with the fee (most would not, but you never know), you can gently remind them that they cannot charge you a fee if you bring them a qualified renter.

norabird

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7680
  • Location: Brooklyn NY
Re: Should I break my lease?
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2015, 04:05:36 PM »
Yes, I would move. See about trying to find a replacement tenant if you are inclined to go that route, but it's worth moving, and you'll save eventually.

clarkai

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 217
Re: Should I break my lease?
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2015, 05:47:04 PM »
Ok, so I went ahead and told the landlord that we wanted to move out before the lease was up (or rather, my husband left a voice mail to that effect), and they're very unhappy. But perhaps I should have expected that, as we're renting a house from an individual instead of a business?

In addition to attempting to guilt trip us, they are also talking about lawyers and saying that they can charge us rent until they find someone to fill the place- which seems odd to me because the lease includes a termination fee. I did look up the law, which seems to side with them, which is annoying- why have a termination clause if the law already takes care of it and you jump immediately to that option?

So now I'm emailing them back clarifying that we're a) not vacating immediately (We're staying through Nov. anyway, not sure where they got the idea that we were going to abandon the place), b) willing to look for replacements, and c) definitely not intending to stay.

Arg. I wish they saw it as a business transaction, but they seem to see it as a personal affront that we want to move out and they feel we've treated them unfairly.

« Last Edit: October 30, 2015, 06:28:55 PM by clarkai »

lhamo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9256
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Should I break my lease?
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2015, 07:15:14 PM »
What's the rental market like in your location?  If it is tight for renters, one strategy would be to try to find them someone to take over the lease and deliberately NOT tell that party what your current rent is.  That way if the landlord wants to charge the new tenant more, they can (as long as the market will bear it).  That might help soften the blow/sweeten the pot for them, and get everything wrapped up more smoothly.

monstermonster

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4298
  • Age: 31
  • Location: The People's Republic of Portland (Oregon)
Re: Should I break my lease?
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2015, 02:21:56 PM »
Yea, I've had to move before and have found a tenant to take over my lease. Hoping you can do that.

mandy_2002

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 290
Re: Should I break my lease?
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2015, 02:37:35 PM »
Ok, so I went ahead and told the landlord that we wanted to move out before the lease was up (or rather, my husband left a voice mail to that effect), and they're very unhappy. But perhaps I should have expected that, as we're renting a house from an individual instead of a business?

In addition to attempting to guilt trip us, they are also talking about lawyers and saying that they can charge us rent until they find someone to fill the place- which seems odd to me because the lease includes a termination fee. I did look up the law, which seems to side with them, which is annoying- why have a termination clause if the law already takes care of it and you jump immediately to that option?

So now I'm emailing them back clarifying that we're a) not vacating immediately (We're staying through Nov. anyway, not sure where they got the idea that we were going to abandon the place), b) willing to look for replacements, and c) definitely not intending to stay.

Arg. I wish they saw it as a business transaction, but they seem to see it as a personal affront that we want to move out and they feel we've treated them unfairly.

You asked to add another tenant on your lease, and they threatened to increase the rent (seems like business to me).  Now they are surprised that you want to move out after that response?  I don't know the law, but if the lease that you both signed has a termination clause, it would make sense that you could follow it to terminate.  Now the difficulty here is that the law is not logical. 

Good luck with your move out.  I was on a month-to-month after my lease ended, so my 30 days notice was sufficient. (From $1750 solo to a shared house for $1200 -> $600 for me)

Axecleaver

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3366
  • Location: New York
Re: Should I break my lease?
« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2015, 01:42:22 PM »
You may want to post this in the real estate forum, lots of smart landlord folks there. The lease is likely a form they got from a real estate agent or off the internet, but it defines the terms for your lease. Read it carefully, but if there's a termination fee, it should define in precise terms how to exercise that option. The law about being liable for expenses until it's re-rented usually applies in cases where there is no buyout clause. It's much more likely that they didn't understand the lease they gave you. From a strict numbers standpoint, it looks like leaving and paying a one month penalty is a good option for you.

I would recommend you talk to the guy in person and explain that not being able to add a room-mate to the lease, plus the fact that comparable places are available for 60% of the price, made this place a poor fit. See if they change their mind.

honeybbq

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1134
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Should I break my lease?
« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2015, 01:47:01 PM »
Definitely ask an expert on the landlording laws in your state.

Dicey

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9715
  • Age: 61
  • Location: NorCal
Re: Should I break my lease?
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2015, 01:11:30 PM »
I'm a landlord, and I recently had a tenant break a lease. The guy was a dick (He complained that the spotlessly clean refrigerator didn't "sparkle".) and I was happy to see him go, but my condition was that I would only let him out if it if it cost me nothing out of pocket. He forfeited his entire deposit and I got a much better tenant and higher rent. That's just background...

Here's my considered advice. I think you should suck it up for the rest of your year's lease. You did not make an optimal decision and you should use this as a learning experience. In signing a lease, you gave your word. Your reason for wanting out of it is not really bona fide (such as a job loss), so the value of this lesson could be priceless for you in the long term. Next time, do more homework and make a better decision.

BTW, the savings figures tallied by others doesn't seem to include moving expenses or things such as utility deposits, which never seem to be refundable. Then there's the gas for the trips back and forth and the things you absolutely "must have" for the new place and the higher commuting costs. Your word should be worth something, and I think you will find the payoff for breaking it (your word and the lease) is insufficient.