What happens if you break a lease?

Life happens. Things change in the blink of an eye. A new job opportunity opens up in a distant city, a family member wants you to move closer to help care for them while they’re sick, or it becomes time to turn a long-distance relationship into something more. 

Unfortunately, all of these things don’t adhere to the schedule set forth by a typical apartment lease. Statistically, it’s pretty unlikely that you’d have to move exactly when your lease is set to end. So what does that mean for your rental?

It means having to break a lease, which essentially means going back on your word on a legal document that you signed.

Early termination exceptions

While a lease is a legally binding document, there are a few unique circumstances that allow you to break a lease without legal or financial repercussions.

One of these exceptions is for active military. If you’re required to start active military duty during your rental period, you will be permitted to break that lease under Arkansas law. 

Arkansas offers protections for victims of domestic violence, too. If you’ve been the victim of domestic violence that has been documented in some way (like if you have an emergency order of protection), you are also permitted to break a lease. You’re also legally permitted to find a new place without discrimination by any landlord under the same law.

If your apartment is uninhabitable as defined by Arkansas law, you are also legally allowed to vacate the premises before the lease is up without being responsible for the remainder of the rent. An uninhabitable apartment means one that doesn’t have reliable heat, sufficient hot water, or is hazardous due to mold, asbestos, or lead. 

Additionally, if a landlord violates your privacy repeatedly– by showing up without notice or removing safety measures in your apartment like locks and doors– you are entitled to vacate the unit as well.

Breaking a lease in Arkansas

In most of the United States, there are protective laws in place that require a landlord to make a reasonable effort to find a new tenant before declaring the vacating tenant responsible for the rent due for the rest of their lease agreement period. However, Arkansas is not one of these states, and landlords are not required to make that effort – they can require you to pay the rest of the money, without legal repercussions.

If you decide to vacate the unit anyway, without paying, they are legally entitled to take you to small claims court, where they can sue you for up to $5,000.

This doesn’t mean that a lease can never be broken, however! It just means that you have to work something out personally with your landlord.

Communication is key

Some landlords include a caveat about early termination in their lease agreements, so be sure to read yours thoroughly so you understand exactly how your landlord prefers to handle things. It’s possible that you’ll be able to pay a smaller fine rather than the remainder of your rent.

No matter what, it’s very important to communicate directly with your landlord, leasing agent, or property manager. They may very well be sympathetic to your situation and allow you to leave without penalty. You can also help move the process along by finding a prospective new tenant, preferably one with good credit and references!

How does leasing work in corporate housing?

Corporate housing arrangements are different from typical long-term leases. Corporate housing is a combination of a traditional apartment lease, a vacation rental, and a hotel; a corporate apartment is usually a fully-furnished space that’s larger than a hotel room and contains everything you need to live comfortably for an extended period of time, from weeks to months.

The best thing about corporate housing is that breaking a lease is no big deal. The system is set up for quick availability and simple departure, and there’s typically no penalty for needing to leave whenever you do. It’s expected that you won’t be staying for years, so if you have to leave after a few months, it’s really no big deal!

If the hassle-free environment of corporate housing sounds right for you, or if you know you’ll have to relocate again soon, reach out to Arkansas Suites today and we’ll help you find the perfect fit for your unique situation.

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Little Rock, Arkansas 72211

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