Can We Break Our Lease to Buy a House?

Last Updated Jul 28, 2010 5:24 PM EDT

Dear Ali:

Our lease on our Texas rental apartment runs through February, but we found a house that we want to buy. Can we break our lease without paying the remaining rent?
A: Congratulations on finding a house you like, that's wonderful.

However, your good fortune doesn't change the terms of your lease. You'd have to read it, because each lease is individual, but leases generally aren't affected by outside circumstances that happen to renters.

So "my job relocated to Kansas City," "my mom invited me to move in with her," and "I found a house I want to buy" may all be wonderful turns of fortune, but they're usually not (in the eyes of the landlord or the law) going to be acceptable reasons to break your lease.

To break a lease, you need a stronger reason -- maybe the apartment isn't "habitable" -- for example, it has no heat -- or you cannot receive "quiet enjoyment" -- the landlord is doing ongoing and noisy renovations downstairs.

However, I am a landlady, and I'm reasonable, and I work with a lot of landlords, and find that most of them are reasonable. So I'd explain the situation to your landlord and ask if there's anything you two can work out. If you can bring in a friend as a tenant, that's the easiest. Good luck!

  • Alison Rogers

    Since graduating from Harvard summa cum laude, Alison Rogers has been a reporter, an editor, a real-estate agent, a Wall Street desk jockey, a columnist, a failed flipper, and a landlady. A member of the National Association of Realtors, she currently sells and rents luxury co-ops in Manhattan for the Chelsea-based firm DG Neary. (If you've got $27,500 a month, the firm has an apartment for you!) Her book, Diary of a Real Estate Rookie, was called "a valuable guide for rookie buyers" by AOL/Walletpop, "beach-read fun" by the New York Observer, and "witty" by Newsweek.