Breaking Up is Hard to Do. Breaking an Apartment Lease is Harder.
So, things went sour. Whether your ex’s promising local band became additional roommates or their unicorn collection got out of control, it’s time to move on and get over your break up. We’re sure you have a slew of new pet names for your former roommate, but for the purposes of this article, let’s just refer to them as #!@&*.
Just remember: you are not the first person to go through this. Smarter people than you have found themselves in this same situation. So, pick up a pint of your favorite ice cream and let’s brainstorm this a bit.
Breaking an Apartment Lease
Breaking your lease should always be your last resort. Most leases are of the 12-month variety and then go on to an automatic month-to-month. If you are in that post-year space (even if you haven’t signed new paperwork), you can probably just give 30-days notice, and you and #!@&* can just go your separate ways. If you are still in that 12-month zone, you need to know the consequences of breaking your lease—which aren’t pretty. If your name is on the lease and you just skip out on it, your credit will get seriously screwed up by the property management, and finding a rental with bad credit can be very challenging.
Don’t hide your breakup from your landlord; enlist and engage them. Humbly go to them and explain what is going on. They may cut you some slack or help you find an alternative. Chances are your landlord has dealt with this many more times that you have. If the property knows you are committed to finding a resolution, they may work with you. Finding a quality tenant (yes, like you) is hard work and they don’t want to lose you.
Who’s Place Is It Anyways?
If both you and #!@* are both on the lease, things get a little trickier. We advise that you keep the place and find a new roommate, making #!@&* fend for themselves. This way you are more in control of your destiny. Let’s say you move out, #!@&* promises to get a new roommate, can’t (ya know, because who would want to live with #!@&*), and then breaks the lease that still has your name on it. You can still be held liable. If #!@&* does find a roommate, make sure that lease gets transferred out of your name. Get paperwork directly from the landlord that says you are in the free and clear. If you keep the place and you can’t afford it, your only real problem is finding a roommate quickly. And you’re awesome, so that should be doable.
Finding a Roommate
The best way to find a roommate is through friend referrals. Start off with Facebook, unfriend #!@&* and just say: “I need a responsible roommate.” You may not know it yet, but this is where Facebook friend Marnie, who you hardly remember from 5th grade, can help out. Facebook is far and away the best place to get references because you know the people, even those unexpected surprises. You can also use roommate services or Craigslist, but make sure you vet those people very carefully.
If you keep the place, keep #!@&*‘s security deposit until you are in the clear. It’s not underhanded; remember this person is not fulfilling the lease and you are saving their credit score. Use your new roommate’s deposit to refund #!@&*’s deposit. And send it to them as quickly as possible—the sooner they are out of your life the better.
Hey, Everything Turned Out Okay
You bet it did. Why not share your story in the comments?