The repercussions of breaking your lease can haunt you for years after. It will impact your ability to rent future apartments, or cost you money that can lead to financial hardship. Breaking your lease should be the last resort, and in most cases, it should not even be an option. Here are 3 common repercussions of breaking your lease:
1. Pay for Rent after You Move
The worst case scenario for breaking your lease is that you’ll have to pay rent on the months remaining in it after you move out. The landlord will have to go to court and win a judgment against you first, but if you break the lease without good cause, you’ll owe the money. That means double rent payments for you if you live somewhere else. Even if you’re not paying rent on another apartment, it’s no fun paying rent for a place where you’re not actually living.
The landlord does have to show reasonable attempts to rent the apartment in an effort to mitigate the damages to you (in many states), but if they can’t rent it for one reason or another, then you have to pay the rent, as you agreed to in your lease. That amount of money can add up if you have many months remaining on your lease at the time you break it. If the landlord can rent the apartment, you won’t have to pay rent from the point of renting to the new tenant and after.
2. Negative Rental History
Many landlords require a tenant application or at least references of previous landlords. Breaking your lease will probably not win you over with your current landlord, who will warn future landlords that you’re a “bad tenant.” This is challenging if you live in area where rentals are scarce, or if it’s a tight community where everyone knows each other. Don’t think that because you’re relocating to a new state that you can escape this problem, either. Prospective landlords will call your previous landlords no matter where they’re located. If you plan on breaking a lease, it had better be for a good reason, and one that will sit well with your next landlord.
3. Legal Fees
In addition to rent payments for the remainder of the lease, you also risk a court judgment against you for legal fees. It takes money to go to court, and the landlord will likely ask for legal fees as part of the award if they win. Legal fees can include the cost of hiring a lawyer to bring the lawsuit, or sending you notices as part of the legal proceedings. Costs to pay the court to file the complaint will also be included. Legal fees can be financially and emotionally taxing, if you can’t afford to pay your own attorney. This is another consequence of breaking your lease that you must consider.
Breaking your lease is a serious proposition, and there are ethical and legal reasons for doing so. However, those instances are few, and you should explore other options first.