Can I break my lease early?

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Can I break my lease early?

I want to break my lease 8 months early. I was told that there was not a waiting list so I would have to continue paying rent until a new tenant were found. However, I have an e-mail from someone who put in an application with the landlord and the landlord told them there was a waiting list. What are my options here? I know of at least 1 person that can move in. How do I know whether there is or isn’t a waiting list? Do I contact the home office and report this? I feel the landlord is just trying to get more money out of me and wants me to stay.

Asked on September 30, 2011 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First, check if your lease has a clause preventing assignment (which is when you transfer the lease to someone else; they take over the lease for you) or subletting (where you remain on the lease, but in turn sublease to someone else). If it does not, and if you know someone who would like to live there, you may be able to assign the lease to that person or sublet to them yourself--i.e. it doesn't matter whether there is waiting list or not, because you, not the landlord, does the transaction.

Second, if there is anything in your lease prohibiting the above (or you don't want to do it), you have to trust you landlord--to a point. The landlord is entitled to hold you accountable for the rent due for the balance of the lease term unless and until he or she re-lets the premises. If it seems to you that the landlord is lying and has chosen to not re-let the place (or is not making any efforts to do so), you could bring a legal action and try to prove that case (and seek compensation for the rent you paid, which you did not need to). Of course, since lawsuits take time and money and are therefore not things entered lightly into, that's why you'd trust you landlord to a point; only when convinced you are being taken advantage of, would you act.


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