So, you signed a lease, and now you wish you hadn’t. Maybe you’ve found a better place or you’ve just found out you lost your job. Whatever the reason, you’re wondering, “Can I change my mind after signing an apartment lease?” The hard truth is no, you can’t.
Can I Change My Mind After Signing An Apartment Lease
Once you and your landlord have signed a lease, it becomes a legally binding contract and you can’t simply back out.
There are a couple of things that can happen.
1. You’re Stuck Paying the Rent
You are typically responsible for paying the entire lease.
That means if you signed a one-year lease, you are on the hook to pay the entire year.
However, there is something called a good-faith effort.
This means that your landlord must do what they can to rent your apartment as quickly as possible.
Once the apartment is rented and a new lease is signed then your lease is null and void.
So, if it takes your landlord two months to find a new tenant for the rental property, you will be responsible to pay those two month’s rent.
This is true even if you are not currently living in the apartment.
The landlord or property manager is required to market the property immediately and make reasonable efforts to find a new tenant in as short a period of time as possible.
2. Your Lease Terms Includes an Early Termination Clause
If your lease has an early termination clause it will spell out what happens if you terminate your lease before the lease period is over.
Many residential leases have such clauses.
This clause will provide a specific date as to when the lease will be considered null and void.
It will also document any fees that you may own and how and when they will be collected.
This clause doesn’t mean you are completely off the hook for your rent.
You may still have to pay your rent money for a number of months.
Or there will be a specific amount that you may have to pay as a termination fee.
Once you pay this amount, you are free of any obligation to pay future rent.
However, if you owe any back rent you will still be legally obligated to pay it.
You may also have to forfeit your security deposit.
3. Your Grace Period
Some people believe that there is a three-day grace period where you can change your mind and get out of your lease, but that’s not the case.
Oftentimes when you purchase large items such as a car there is a grace period, but rental leases don’t work the same way.
As mentioned before, this is a legally binding contract and as soon as it is signed it is a done deal.
You have no cooling off period and you can not simply back out of your lease agreement.
4. Can You Just Skip Out
So, if you don’t want the apartment, and you don’t want to pay for a place you aren’t living in, can you just skip out on the rent?
Well, yes you can just leave, but that’s not a good idea.
You could very well find yourself in small claims court as your liability for rent doesn’t go away just because you left.
You would then have to come up with the money to cover the unpaid rent as well as court costs and other fees.
If your landlord gets a judgment against you, and they will, they might be able to garnish your wages or take some other asset you have including the money in your bank account.
The best thing you can do is to explain your situation to your landlord and see what agreement the two of you can come to.
Otherwise, your credit score is going to take a major hit as well.
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The Bottom Line
The bottom line is this, don’t sign a lease agreement unless you are 100 percent sure you want to rent the apartment.
There is no getting out of your rental agreement without you having to pay some money.
This could be quite a bit of money.
Emergencies happen and you could lose your job or get transferred or something else could come up at the last minute, but do what you can to make sure your life and work-life are pretty stable before you sign a rental lease.
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To Sum it All Up:
Your lease is a binding contract and if you decide you don’t want the apartment, you could still be on the hook for months of rent. Be as sure as you can be that you want this apartment before you sign on the dotted line.