Apartment lease termination that occurs prior to the end of the lease term can have several legal consequences. Tenants that terminate leases early can face extensive financial costs, negative reporting on credit reports and possibly even legal action. Described below are some of the legal concerns and possible consequences to consider before termination a lease early.
In extreme cases where you refuse or fail to fulfill your contractual obligations to the landlord your landlord has the option to take you to court and obtain an order requiring you to complete your obligations. Possibly, too, the costs of court action, including filing and other court fees, will be levied against you, increase the financial costs you must repay to the landlord.
Additionally, should you hire an attorney to defend your decision to terminate the lease early you will be responsible for this cost. If you lose in court, the court might also require you to pay your landlord’s attorney’s fees. Court actions based on early lease terminations may be reported on your credit report and will exist indefinitely to be viewed by anyone requesting the file.
Bad Reporting on Your Credit Report
Terminating a lease early can be reported on your credit report and can possibly lower your credit score. Your credit report is used for everything for credit card applications to background checks for a lease application. If this report shows that you terminated a lease early, you may not be accepted for an apartment in the future. Legally, there is very little you can do to alter your credit report unless you are not responsible for the action behind the report, for example if the action reported occurred because of fraud.
Possibly, your landlord could decide to send a collection agency for any rents and other payments owed. Collection actions taken against you are reported to credit agencies and possibly even your local courts, depending on your state’s collection laws. Collection agencies are regulated by a code of conduct and laws, but if your loan is sold to a collection agency they may institute legal action against you. In a lawsuit, you would be faced with the same issues discussed above.
Responsibility for Rents Due
Even if you vacate the apartment early, you are still responsible for the full amount of rent for the remainder of time in the lease. This is a legal obligation that you cannot escape unless the landlord rents the apartment to another tenant at the same amount of rent you were paying. If the landlord is unable to obtain a tenant for the same amount of rent and must accept a lower amount, you are still responsible for the difference. This amount would be the amount sought in a court action.
Responsibility for Apartment
Even if you are not a resident of the apartment, you might still be responsible for the residence’s upkeep. Depending on your lease you might be responsible to timely report any damage to your lease, such as broken water pipes or appliances. Failing to report these may make you responsible for any damage the original maintenance problem causes.