Moving Out Before Your Lease Is Up: 5 Simple Tips

By Zach Buchenau

Last Updated: October 10, 2020

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Moving out before your lease is up: 5 simple tips | Be The Budget

Thinking about moving out before your lease is up? If so, here are 5 simple tips to make sure everything goes as smooth as possible.

As a renter, there are all sorts of reasons you might want to move out before your lease ends. Whether you found a better place to live, purchased a place of your own, or just don’t like your current situation, moving out early might seem like a great option. But if this is your first time breaking your lease early, there are quite a few things to consider, and questions you should ask. In fact, let’s start with the most foundational question of all: can you move out before your lease ends?

Yes, you can move out before your lease ends. However, in most cases, you will have to pay an early lease termination fee, which is typically the equivalent of 2 months rent. That said, since every rental situation is unique, you should read your lease thoroughly, and talk to your landlord before moving out early.

By doing so, you may find that there are other obligations that you will need to fulfill. For example, you may have to pay rent until your landlord finds a new tenant to replace you. You might have to pay to have the rental cleaned. You may even have to help your landlord find a new tenant.

Put simply, the more you know, the better off you’ll be if you decide to move out early.

And that’s exactly why I’m writing this article.

In the rest of this guide I’m going to cover 5 simple tips for moving out before your lease is up. So, before you start packing up your stuff and heading to that new place you’ve had your eye on, keep reading.

1. Read Your Lease Thoroughly

Before you decide to move out early, the absolute first thing you should do is read through your lease in its entirety. I’m not talking about glancing through it and trying to cherry-pick the pieces of information you need. Seriously, I’m talking about sitting down and reading through every word as if it’s the most entertaining book you’ve ever read.

And if you don’t understand something — which is completely normal, by the way — read it over and over until the information sinks in. Break every word down until you have a complete understanding of everything in your lease.

To be honest, I believe this is something you should do whenever you sign a lease, but better late than never. As with any contract, the more you know, the safer you’ll be. So, dig out your lease from that bin you keep in your storage room, or sift through your email until you find it. Then, sit down with a good cup of coffee, and read every single word.

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2. Talk To Your Landlord Or Leasing Office

After reading through your lease, the very next thing you should do is talk to your landlord or leasing office, and ask them what is required of you if you decide to move out.

In most cases, assuming your landlord is a reasonable person, you shouldn’t have any issues. This isn’t the first time a renter has ever had to move out early, and as a landlord, they should be prepared for this situation.

That said, you can’t always predict how a conversation like this will go, so the fact that you understand your lease inside and out will be a major benefit for you.

One thing to keep in mind is that in some states, you may be obligated to help your landlord find a new tenant if you wish to move out early. Be sure to ask about this, and any other question you might have about the process. This is a fact-finding mission, and the information that results from this conversation will help you make the best decision possible.

Moving out before your lease is up | Be The Budget

3. Add Up The Cost

Ok, now that you have read through your lease and spoken to your landlord, it’s time for you to sit down and do the financial math. Like the previous steps, you should be as thorough as possible, and prepare for the absolute worst case scenario.

Will you have to pay a penalty fee? If so, how much?

Are there any other move-out fees you need to account for?

Also, what kind of financial obligations are you going to have to cover at your new place? Don’t forget about things like: first and last month’s rent, security deposit, pet deposits, parking fees, trash fees, technology fees, or anything else.

Once again, the more you know, the better off you’ll be. So, do your best not to leave anything out. To put it simply, adding up the cost of an early move-out is one of the most important (if not the most important) steps when moving out of a rental before your lease is up.

4. Give Your Landlord Written Notice

If after working your way through the previous three tips, you are still confident that you would like to move out early, then the next thing you need to do is give your landlord written notice.

This can be in the form of an email, or written letter, but either way, you should ask for some form of acknowledgement in return.

For example, if you decide to send an email to your landlord, you should ask him or her to reply with a confirmation that they received your letter. On the other hand, if you decide to go with the hand-written letter, it‘s a good idea to have your landlord sign a second copy that you can keep for your own records.

And that brings me to my final tip.

5. Get Everything In Writing

Even though you have a lease, it’s important to get everything in writing. For that reason alone, I recommend communicating with your landlord over email whenever possible.

Whether you have questions about your lease, your total early move-out costs, or anything else, it’s always good to have a paper trail.

To put it plainly, be overly cautious, and get every single thing in writing. I know it might feel a little awkward at times, but it is the best way to protect yourself in the event your landlord tries to take any sort of legal action against you. And don’t kid yourself, that can (and does) happen.

Can you move out before your lease is up? | Be The Budget

Bonus Tip: Don’t Get Hasty

Whether you’re wanting to rent a new place, or purchase a place of your own, it can be easy to let your excitement and emotions take over. But the best advice I can give you is to slow down, and approach the situation with a level head.

Let the financial math supersede your emotions, and don’t commit to a new lease or mortgage until you are sure you can get out of your current lease. Don’t make a tough situation worse by going too fast.

In my experience, hasty decisions almost never end well.

So, take your time, assess all the variables, and try to stay focused on your long-term well-being. Your future self will thank you for it!

Zach Buchenau

About The Author:

Zach Buchenau is a self-proclaimed personal finance nerd. When he isn't writing about budgeting, getting out of debt, making extra money, and living a frugal life, you can find him building furniture, fly fishing, or developing websites. He is the co-founder of BeTheBudget, and Chipotle's most loyal customer.

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