If something happens in your life that doesn’t fit with the terms of your lease, your first thought is probably that you need to break it. You actually have four options: sublet, assign, abandon or break your lease.
Subletting is the fastest and cheapest way to get out of a lease. You are technically still responsible for the rent payments, but someone else is living there and has agreed to pay them.
Landlords are less likely to charge extra fees for a sublet, and the approval process usually involves their review of your proposed sublet agreement and the identity, background and employment information of your applicant.
We've written an exhaustive guide to subletting in all fifty states.
A lease break is when a landlord terminates the lease contract and puts the unit back on the market as a traditional lease. This nearly always requires you to pay some kind of buyout or penalty fee.
Instead of breaking your lease, you can find someone else who wants to live in your place instead of you. You would transfer the remainder of the lease to them. Your original lease remains active. It's simply assigned to the new tenant.
Your relationship with the landlord ends and you are no longer responsible for paying the rent as long as they legally release you from the lease. Landlords often charge between $100 and $1000 for a lease assignment, and your approval process is exactly the same as when a renter applies for a new lease at your building.
Abandonment is when you pack your stuff and leave without notice, forfeiting your security deposit. Your landlord can sue you for lost rent and report the incident to credit bureaus. This could make it very hard for you to rent an apartment in the future.
Read more about the pros and cons of abandoning your lease
Having trouble deciding which route you want to take? Start by finding a tenant. At that point you can decide - with your tenant and also with your landlord - if it makes more sense to break, sublet or assign your lease.
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