Apartment living and leases

I just completed my first quarter as a grad student, and I’m not real happy with the program I chose. For the past four months or so I’ve been looking for a full-time job, but with the way things are out there these days, I’m not expecting to find anything anytime soon. In the meantime, I’m starting to look into other Master’s programs. Both my job and school searches are on a national level.

The thing is, my apartment lease is up in February, and I’ll have to let them know if I plan to renew by the middle of next month. With the way things are up in the air right now, I’m really hesitant to sign a new 12-month lease - I’d like to think that within the next six months I’ll be moving to another area. But if I go month-to-month, I’m guessing the rent will be a couple hundred more each month, and it would really suck to do that and wind up still being here a year from now.

So, how hard is it to break a lease? I really hope this doesn’t get construed as asking for legal advice, because that is not what I’m after. I’m curious if anyone has had to do it, and whether it was painless, or a pain in the ass, or what… and I’m also wondering what others might do in my situation, faced with this choice.

Oh, and AFAIK, my complex doesn’t offer a six-month option, only the full year. They’re part of a nationwide chain of apartment complexes, and they have a policy where one can move to any complex in their organization without breaking the lease. There are many major markets where they don’t have a presence, though, and I’m not about to limit my job/school search to markets where they are.

However hard they write it in to be. Just check. Sometimes there is a buy out, sometimes you have to pay out the duration of the lease.

Why don’t you just see if they’ll let you sign a six month lease?

This will also depend on your jurisdiction. I know in Ontario you cannot be forced to sign a new one-year lease after the first one (you simply become a month-to-month tenant), but in Québec the landlord can bring you before the rental tribunal to settle a disagreement on rent terms.

Look into the applicable laws of your jurisdiction, and ask you landlord about a month-to-month situation. I suspect your landlord may prefer to keep you on a short-term basis than try and find new tenants in the dead of winter, although that might not be an issue where you live! Around here, (nearly) everyone moves July 1st!

I’ve found that it loosely correlates with the rental demand in the area, and how hard it will be for the landlord to release the apartment. If they know they can find a new tenant in a week or two with minimal hassle on their part, then they will keep your security deposit and wish you luck on future endeavors. If you’re in a college area, where leases start in August and almost no one is looking after that, then it will be firmly explained that it’s your responsibility to find a subletter. Again, this is all IME, YMMV.

If it’s a large complex the I would bet they have a policy on this, either written or informal. It’s worth it to just swing by the office and ask casually. And I agree, look into local laws. Everywhere I’ve lived, you at least have the option of advertising and finding your own subletter. But again, YMMV.

What harm could there be in asking for a 6 month lease? (Well, it’s possible some loon might get upset, but it’s unlikely). Talk to whoever is in charge, explain the circumstances, and ask politely for a 6 month lease if that’s what you want.

Do not assume that the lease can be broken without substantial consequences. Do not sign a lease that you do not think you will be able to honor.

Read the lease closely. Every lease I’ve signed here in Dallas says, if you move far enough away, I can break the lease with minimal penalties. I see you live in Portland so this may not help you any.

If it is a nationwide chain, then they will surely have the terms for breaking a lease spelled out in the lease itself. What I would do after reading the terms for breaking the leaes would then largely depend on how much more expensive it would be to go month-to-month versus breaking the lease.

Thanks for the replies. If only I could find my copy of my lease :rolleyes:, I’d have a better grip on what I should do.

As far as asking for a six-month lease, I plan to look into it, but with some of the MS programs I’m looking at I’d have to arrive at the school in June. So I’d still be in the same boat…

I was recently living in a apartment complex which was owned by a corporation which also owned apartment complexes all around the country. For whatever reason, they had very rigid lease terms. They would only allow 12-month leases, no 6-month or month to month terms. This was ridiculous because there were many vacancies in the complex and many people moved out because the lease terms were so rigid.

There was a time when I was confronted with a situation similar to yours. In my lease agreement, there was language and a remedy in the event the lease is broken. If I recall, you were required to pay around 2 months rent.