When you signed your lease, you agreed to pay rent for a year, so if you leave before that year is up, technically you’re still on the hook for the remainder of the rent you promised to pay. Bummer, we know.
In some states you can break a lease if your employer relocates or if they transfer you somewhere else and you have no choice in the matter. But here, you’re voluntarily taking a new job, so state law isn’t going to allow you to just walk away from your lease free and clear.
So more than likely, you’re going to have to fork out several months’ rent. You’ve got some options to lessen the blow, though. First, check your lease. A lot of leases include some kind of break-lease clause that gives you the ability to leave early provided you pay a couple months’ rent and/or forfeit your security deposit. Though this sucks, it sucks much less than having to pay out the whole lease and living off an EBT card.
The other thing to do (after you’ve checked your lease of course) is talk to your landlord. Tell him about your new job—and it wouldn’t hurt to be really enthusiastic and excited about it. If you’re buddy-buddy with your landlord, he might actually be excited for you, maybe even empathize with your situation and cut you a bit of a break. The irony here is that if you’ve been a good tenant—the quiet type who never complained about the exorbitant prices in the laundry room and always got their rent check in on time—your landlord might not be all that thrilled to see you go.
If you don’t have a break-lease clause in your lease, and you talked to your landlord and
he’s not willing to show you some love, you still have a few options. Some states require the landlord to make a reasonable effort to find someone to live in your apartment before he sticks you with the entire amount you owe under the lease. Other states, like New York, put the burden on you to find your replacement. You might also see what your lease says about sub-leasing. If you’ve got a friend looking for a new place, you might be able to sub-lease to them, and then everybody’s happy. Of course, keep in mind your landlord can still refuse your friend for the same reason he could refuse to rent to anyone else. So if your friend has been previously evicted for throwing ragers or her credit’s in the toilet, this might not work out so well.
Once all that’s done and you’ve figured out the bottom line on what it’s going to cost you to move out of your old apartment, talk to your new employer. If this is your dream job, surely you have all kinds of great benefits, right? They may even have offered to pay for some of your moving expenses. The cost of breaking your current lease, especially since they’ve said they want you to start immediately, is definitely part of your moving expenses. If they really want you, they may be able to help lighten that load a bit. The last thing you want is to move to a new city and have no money to enjoy it, obviously.
Talk to your landlord as soon as possible to discuss your options. You may end up on the hook for a couple months’ rent, but that’s way better than having your landlord sue you.
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