Before I begin, let’s make one thing clear: a lease is a contract, and it obligates a landlord to allow tenants to live on a property in exchange for rent in the amount covering the full term of the lease, not just month-to-month. I am in no way suggesting that breaking a lease is desirable or the right thing to do.

That being said, there are valid reasons why a tenant would need to break a lease: a job relocation, loss of income, loss of residency, family circumstances etc. The wrong way to address this situation is to simply walk away from a home and stop paying rent. In addition to being insensitive and just plain wrong, such a desperate act would definitely expose you to the long arm of the law.

If you do find yourself in a life-altering circumstance that necessitates breaking a lease, give me a call, and I will help you make the transition not only happen, but happen in a way that is not a lose-lose situation for you and the landlord.

Leases are governed by the State of New Jersey’s banking laws, and those stipulate that a landlord cannot collect twice on a rental property. Explain the situation to your landlord and give him enough notice to look for a new tenant. With luck and my help, a new renter can be found that will be able to move in as you move out, covering the remainder of your lease and softening the blow of your departure.

I’ve managed several such transitions, and landlords, while not happy with the extra work involved, were at least relieved that their property was rented and no income was lost. For the most part they reacted professionally and understood that sometimes life happens.

A word of caution though: the landlord still holds your security deposit, and may or may not be able to deduct funds from it based on any legitimate loss experienced as a result of your departure. Don’t sweat this loss, as it is a small price to pay for moving on with your life and doing so in a manner that does not create a bad situation for everyone.

Bo Twerdowsky

Real estate agent, self-professed computer geek, grammar policeman, proud father of two. Opinionated, questioning, intolerant of stuffy sorts devoid of a sense of humor.