Breaking Your Lease

Renting an apartment can be challenging enough, but having to break your lease can be even more difficult. Sometimes people switch jobs, have to move to another part of the country, or simply want to move somewhere else in New York City. My goal is to take you through the process and make sure that you are fully informed on the best way to get out of your lease. Managements may charge early termination fees or in some occasions, might not allow you to break your lease at all. It’s important to get the right information from the right source. You might think that subletting your apartment is the same as breaking your lease, but it isn’t.

The difference between a sublet, a lease assignment and a lease break is the following:

In a sublet situation, you are still responsible for the lease and payment of the apartment. If the sublessee doesn’t pay you or the management, you are still liable. If there are any damages that occur while someone else is living in your apartment, you are liable for all costs. However, in some scenarios, the other tenant does not have to go through the entire application process to live in your apartment. This varies from building to building, so please check with your management first.

A lease break or lease assignment is a bit more complicated. This occurs when you want to be completely free of obligation from your lease. In this situation, you, the management or a broker must find someone who qualifies for your apartment and can either take over the remainder of your lease — lease assignment — or work out a different lease term with the management — lease break.

While you can advertise sublets pretty easily via Craigslist and other free services, lease breaks require proper marketing. Time is money and the last thing you want is to have possession of the apartment after you already move. Once that occurs, you are essentially paying per day or per month if the potential new tenant is only able to start on the 1st of the following month.

Here are a few questions you may want to think about before breaking your lease:

1. How soon do you need to be out of your apartment? How flexible are you with the date?
2. Can you pay the management a fee to get out of the lease? If so, how much will that cost?
3. Do you have any friends who could take over your lease?
4. Have you contacted a broker yet? Are you open to potentially paying a broker a commission if it means you can rent the apartment more quickly?
5. How strict is the management and how quick is the approval process? Do you know the requirements needed for someone else to get approved? How much rent and security up front is required by the potential new tenant?
6. Will the price increase if someone takes over the lease? What are the fees for someone to apply for the apartment?
7. This may seem obvious, but is the place you’re moving to next 100 percent confirmed? You don’t want to break your lease only to find out later that you have no place to live.

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