District Justice Court
Carnegie Mellon Links:
Q. I just graduated/found a much better place/hate my roommate/all of the above. Can I get out of my lease?
A. When you signed the lease you agreed to take the apartment and pay rent for a fixed term, usually one year. Unfortunately, problems with your roommate or even significant life changes such as graduating do not entitle you to simply break your lease and move out. However, with the landlord's agreement, you may be able to terminate your responsibility under the lease, or to sublet the apartment.
Subletting. Many leases may have provision regarding subletting. Most commonly, the tenant must obtain written permission of the landlord to sublet the apartment and the landlord must approve the sublettor, and the landlord agrees that approval will not be unreasonably withheld.
Subletting doesn't get you off the hook entirely, however. When you sublet, the original lease between you and your landlord remains in effect. If the sublettor fails to pay the rent or damages the apartment, the landlord can hold you responsible. You would then have to pay the landlord for rent or damages and try to recover the money from the sublettor.
If your landlord is agreeable, you may be able to terminate the lease. To terminate the lease, you'll need a written statement from your landlord that the lease has been terminated and you have no more responsibility under it. The landlord would then sign a new lease with person who replaces you.
Your landlord is entitled to charge you for any expenses he incurs because of your early termination or subletting. For instance, he may continue charging you rent while another tenant is found and he may charge you for advertising. Your landlord may not, however, refuse to re-rent the apartment or continue to collect rent from you while also collecting rent from your replacement.