Ending the Lease
Many leases contain an automatic renewal clause, which states that the lease will automatically renew for a stated term if the tenant does not give notice that he or she intends to terminate the lease at the end of the original term. Check your lease to ensure that you know how much notice you need to give to avoid automatic renewal - it may be 60 days, 90 days, or even as much as 150 days. Be sure to mark this date on your calendar.
It may be necessary for you to end your lease early for a variety of personal reasons. If this is the case you should notify the landlord as soon as possible of your desire to terminate the lease early. The landlord in these circumstances is required to make reasonable attempts to re-lease your apartment. Be aware that you will remain responsible for paying the rent provided for under the lease until a qualified replacement tenant can be found. It may take some time to locate a replacement tenant and you should understand that you may be required to continue paying rent for a lengthy period.
A landlord is entitled to be made whole and can also make you responsible for any reasonable expenses directly related to your early termination. Ideally, you should look for a replacement tenant yourself so that you have better control of the process. Document all the communication you have with the landlord regarding your early termination. Follow every telephone conversation with a follow-up email or a note or letter. Also, check to make sure that the landlord is advertising the apartment.
When you move out it is recommended that you:
- Complete the "move out" section of the Move In / Move Out Checklist, so that it is clear what condition the apartment is in on the day you move out;
- Take dated photographs of any damage to the apartment, even if you were the cause of the damage (this may assist you in assessing the reasonableness of the deductions made to the security deposit due to the damage);
- Leave the apartment clean and tidy without any furniture or trash left on the premises;
- Discontinue any utilities arranged by you, for example, the cable connection; and
Provide the landlord with your forwarding address in writing (e-mail, letter, or even better, certified mail) to facilitate return of the security deposit.