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?

UPDATED: Apr 28, 2012

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 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).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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