If you are getting married (congratulations!) and wondering if you can get out of your lease early, you are in the right place.
In this article, I am going to cover whether you can break your lease early if you get married and provide some tips on how to do it.
We’ll get into the analysis and tips in detail, but the short answer to the question is as follows:
In general, you cannot break your lease early due to an upcoming wedding unless (i) there is a provision in your lease that would allow you to terminate it early without penalty, such as a month to month provision or buyout clause or (ii) you can establish a different (but still valid) reason for terminating your lease that is recognized under your state or local landlord-tenant laws.
Now, even if you can’t satisfy either of the two conditions I just stated, don’t lose hope. There are other options available to you, including securing a replacement tenant, or terminating early and hoping that the landlord quickly finds a new tenant.
Ok, we’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get into it!
The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified legal professional before making any decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.
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Can I Break My Lease If I I Get Married?
Marriage is without a doubt a special occasion, but unfortunately, it is not one that is generally recognized as an event that warrants termination of your lease under most standard leases and state and local laws.
First, Check Your Lease
That being said, the first place you want to examine is your lease.
As mentioned, it’s very uncommon for a lease to have some sort of provision that allows a renter to get out of the lease simply because they are getting married. I’ve never seen one.
The reason is simple. No landlord wants to bear the risk of that. Getting married is a voluntary decision made by the tenant so it doesn’t make sense for the landlord to be put into a bind and have to find a new tenant because of it. But there may be other provisions in the contract that can help your situation.
For example, if your lease is month to month (in which case, you can typically get out with some brief notice to the landlord), you are in luck. Although if you are on a month to month lease, you probably already know that and don’t need to check your lease to confirm it.
But even if you’re not on a month to month, there may be provisions that allow you to sublease the apartment or terminate the lease if you pay a penalty (more on that later).
Second, Check State and Local Laws
Now, if your lease does not have these types of provisions, then it’s time to review your state and local landlord-tenant laws.
For your convenience, here’s our 50 state reference table (including D.C.) that will link you to the official landlord tenant laws of your state.
Although it is theoretically possible that your state or local government may have some unusual provision in the landlord-tenant laws that offers a way out for people who are getting married, I would not have high hopes…most jurisdictions do not have such provisions in place.
But you may want to explore if there are other provisions in your landlord tenant laws that may apply.
For example, if your dwelling is uninhabitable due to mold, pests or other unsanitary conditions, you may be able to break your lease early, depending on your landlord tenant laws. Similar provisions often exist if you are the victim of domestic violence, you are facing harassment or danger, or you are facing physical or mental health issues that can be addressed by moving out.
Check out my full article on how to break your lease early without penalty for more details. It includes 11 situations where you can terminate early (plus one bonus option that applies in all situations).
If neither your lease nor your landlord tenant laws permit you to get out of your lease due to your upcoming marriage, don’t give up. There are some other options available to you…
Review Your Lease For Buyouts, Subleasing and Other Early Termination Options
As I mentioned earlier, you will want to look over your lease carefully.
Obviously, a month to month lease is ideal because you can terminate on very short notice and you are no longer liable for paying rent under your lease once it expires.
Some leases also contain a “buyout” clause. This is a provision that allow a tenant to terminate the lease early if they pay an early termination fee. Typically, these clauses require advance notice. Although it will hurt financially to exercise this right if you have it, it might be your best option.
A modest fee will certainly be better than being liable for all of the rental payment remaining on the lease (assuming you have a lot of time left).
Also read the lease to see if there are any conditions or other termination rights that you can exercise. For example, if you are relocating your job as part of getting married, there may be provisions in your lease that deal with job relocations.
It’s just a smart practice to read over every line in your lease to see if there is something you can hang your hat on.
Communicate with Your Landlord
Let your landlord know that you are getting married and that the current living situation is no longer possible for you. Although they won’t be thrilled to hear the news, it is better to communicate with them as soon as you realize your situation. See if you can work out a solution that works.
If the landlord has been doing this for some time, they have probably been presented with similar requests and may have a standard way of handling them.
If they don’t offer a reasonable solution, you can propose things as well. For example, even if you don’t have a buyout clause in the lease, there’s no reason why you can’t negotiate something like that.
The bottom line is that most landlords don’t want to litigate or evict if they can avoid it.
That’s because taking a tenant to court can sometimes be more expensive than the amount of rent that you owe. If you are open, reasonable, and communicate with them, they may be willing to work something out with you.
Find a Replacement Tenant
You can also try to find another tenant for your unit.
This can actually wind up being a great outcome for you and your landlord. You can sweeten the pot by offering to list the unit and handle all of the work associated with finding a new tenant.
Tell the landlord you will answer all of the emails and calls from prospective tenants, arrange for open houses, and essentially take care all of the hassle and headaches associated with finding a new tenant.
If you’ve never done anything like that before, ask your landlord if they have a listing description that they have used in the past and any photos you can use. In many cases, they will be more than happy to oblige. If not, just look up other rentals in your area and see how they have described the units. You should be able to pull together something that will work.
You will also need to know your landlord’s screening requirements (e.g., minimum income levels, credit score cutoffs, etc.), so you can do the initial screenings on tenants.
I have found a lot of success finding tenants on zillow.com and apartments.com, so you may want to check them out.
Related Reading: If you want to learn more about how to break your lease early by finding a new tenant, check out my full article on the topic here.
Terminate Your Lease Early without Permission
As a last resort, you can leave the unit and not pay any further rent.
Now if you do this, you taking on some serious potential risks. That’s because you may wind up being on the hook for the remainder of the rental payments under the lease (as well as potential late fees, and other damage claims). That’s the bad part.
However, there is a silver lining. In most jurisdictions, the landlord is required to mitigate damages by trying to find a suitable replacement tenant. Once they do, you will no longer be on the hook for your lease.
Remember, if the landlord can’t find a replacement tenant fast, you will be on the hook for the rent until they do. That could wind being a ton of money.
Another risk of breaking your lease like this is that a landlord may report any non-payment of rent to credit reporting agencies and take you to court. These actions can have a serious and negative impact on your credit score, which could affect your ability to rent a new place in the future.
As I mentioned, it’s a gamble and carries considerable downside risk, so only consider this as a last resort.
Getting married can be a stressful time (as well as a joyous one), and trying to figure out how to handle your lease on top of everything else can seem daunting. But the good news is that there are some solid options you can explore to get out of your lease (even if your lease and your state laws don’t allow for it).