Moving out before your lease ends

When you have a lease, you’ve agreed to stay put until it expires. But what if you need to ‘terminate’—or end—the lease early? You have a few options.

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Understanding the Basics

See what you need to know to take action.

If you are on a month-to-month lease, you can move out without a penalty—if you give enough notice, usually at least 30 days. Let your landlord know in writing when you will be leaving, even if you have a verbal agreement with them. For more on what you need to do before leaving your rental, see the moving out checklist.

If you do have a written lease, read it carefully for information about terminating (or ending) it early. Your lease will let you know how much money that will cost you. It could be a lot. But if you must move out before your lease is up, you can try to save some of that money. Here's how.

  • Negotiate with your landlord. Try offering your landlord something in return. After all, you are costing them money by ending your lease early. For example, let them keep your security deposit. Or tell them they can show your place to other renters without giving you 24-hours notice. Learn more about how to negotiate with your landlord.
  • Sublet. Ask your landlord if they will let you “sublet” the rental unit. That is, allow you to find another person to take over your lease and pay the rent instead. If your landlord agrees to allow you to sublet, get the permission in writing. Please note, if the person you find to sublet does not pay the rent on time, your landlord can come after you for the money.

A special note to military members: you may have the right to end your lease without consequences. For example, you can end your lease if the military is moving you to another location, or your spouse dies while on active duty. Learn more about rights granted to you under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

Forms and Letters

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