Can You Move Into Another Apartment Before Your Lease Is Up?

There are many situations in which you may be faced with the potential of needing to leave, or being forced to leave, your current apartment before the lease is up.  But you ALSO need to move into a new place as well.

So, can you move into another apartment while you still have an active lease? 

Yes, you can rent two apartments at the same time, although you will be responsible for the payment and security deposits for both facilities at the same time.   

While this may not seem like the most idea of situations, it happens more than you think.  College students want to move back home over the summer or maybe move to another town for a job offer and suddenly, there is no one left to pay the rent.  

Family members move out, boyfriend and girlfriend break up, or people are transferred for their job to another area.  These situations happen all the time, and one thing that is commonly overlooked is the fact that in many cases, you may end up having to pay for both rents at the same time. 

In this article I will take you through some of the most common situations which this happens, what you should do as a renter, and some things that can help you save a TON OF MONEY with your landlord. 

What Happens If You Move Out Before Your Lease Is Up?

If you move out before your lease is up, contractually you are obligated to pay the rest of the time you have left on your lease.  For instance, if you have 3 months left on your lease, and your rent payment is $700 each month, then you would owe the complex $2,100 whether or not you were staying there or not.  

If you would BREAK your lease, you would owe the $2,100 PLUS the security deposit charged by your apartment complex.  Sometimes, when roommates leave for the summer or family members move out, it becomes better to just keep paying the rent until the end of the term instead of actually breaking your lease.  At least this way, you can get your security deposit back. 

If you are willing to keep paying the rent, your landlord is not going to care if you physically move out of the apartment or not.  They may want to know if you are going to be there or not so they can keep the electricity on for the refrigerator and furnace and keep the gas on as well if it is in the winter months.   

Letting them know your plans, no matter what you decide to do is a good way to keep from being charged for something that happened to your apartment when you were gone simply because you didn’t have the lines of communication open with them.  

Will I Have To Pay If I Break My Lease?

The amount you have to pay that is remaining on your lease at the time you leave is up to your landlord to determine.  To lower this amount, let them know about your situation and talk to them to work something out. 

The reasons leases are made are so landlords know who is going to be there and for how long.  Additionally, it can be expensive to get an apartment cleaned up and ready to rent out again.

You may think that your apartment is perfectly cleaned, but there are always going to be costs involved with getting an apartment ready to go again.  At the very least, most apartment complexes are going to wash the carpets and paint the walls.  

These turnover costs add up very quickly.  Most landlords don’t break even with a new tenant until at least the 3rd or 4th month depending on how much work they had to put into the unit. 

Obviously, they are not wanting to go through this process every couple of months because they would be in the hole, they wouldn’t be able to keep up with maintenance and repairs, and the condition of every other apartment you stay in would drastically go down in quality. 

Leases are in place to not only lay down the ground rules for the apartment complex, but also give a guarantee to the landlord that a tenant will be there for at least a certain amount of time. 

This gives them the security they need to financially plan for repairs and improvements, not to mention paying the bills, at the complex.  

If you want to lower the cost you have to pay because you are leaving early, the best thing to do is to go talk to your landlord face to face.  This shows them you respect them enough to talk with them face to face about your issue.  Face to face contact is also going to improve your chances that they are going to take it easy on you.  

In the end, the landlord is the only person who can give you leniency on the terms of your lease, so this is the only person you need to concern yourself with talking to. 

In my experience, when tenants come to talk to me about breaking their lease early, the ones that simply tell me what their situation is and what is happening in their lives are the ones which it is easy to show leniency to. 

Additionally, if they have been a good tenant, it is really easy to cut them some slack because I know what the condition of the apartment is going to be in when we go in to get it ready to go again. 

Additionally, many tenants know that the landlord is going to go much more easy on them if they help them both: 

Clean The Apartment 


Find A Replacement Tenant 

Anytime a tenant comes and offers to do either of these things, I know they are serious about helping me as a landlord and trying to save themselves some money at the same time. 

It is much easier to accommodate a tenant that does this than simply a relationship that had a breakup or a family member kicked someone out and now doesn’t have the money to pay rent.  

Can I Break A Lease If I Move Out Of State?

You can break a lease if you move out of state, but you will still be responsible for paying the rest of the term on the lease agreement.  

This situation is the one that I am most apt, as a landlord, to give leniency on.  Many employees living in apartments don’t have a choice when their work transfers them to another area, and most times, they don’t take into consideration the lease that the employee currently has with the employer.  

In these situations, I find that a solution can almost always be found simply by negotiating through the situation with the tenant.   

Obviously, I know that I am going to be out of some rent money because they aren’t going to be here, AND I am going to have to put money into the apartment to get it ready to go again. 

So, any suggestions that the tenant comes to me with regarding those two things at this point in the conversation is going to have a positive impact on what agreement I end up making with them. 

Sometimes, tenants offer to find someone else from their work that is looking for a new place to stay.  I have found that this is the most seamless solution for the problem.  The new person can either come and move into the apartment “as is” and just assume the remainder of the lease, or I can clean it up for them and they can sign a new lease. 

But typically, when a tenant is moving out of town and they find someone else to move in, they are willing to move into the apartment “as is”.  

If the tenant can’t find someone or doesn’t know anyone, if they offer to make the small repairs and get the apartment cleaned up and ready to go for the next tenant, usually I will try and split the different in what they owe me in the end. 

So if they leave their apartment in tip-top shape and they have 4 months rent left, I will typically let them just pay for 2 months and call it good and I will put the apartment back up on the market once they are out and I have done everything I need to do. 

A situation may arise in which you need to be somewhere else even though you still have an active lease at your old apartment complex.  While you CAN have two apartments at the same time, you may not want to, or be able to pay for both at the same time. 

Talk to your landlord first off to see what you can work out between the two of you.  Offer to help them clean the apartment or find someone else to fill it for the remainder of the lease.  

While technically, you are still on the hook for the remainder of the lease, helping your landlord with their issue of filing the apartment you are leaving is going to help convince them not to charge you for the rest of your lease.  

Be open and upfront, talk to them face to face if you can, and let them know what the situation is, that you understand their situation, and together you both can figure out something that will be easier on your pocketbook and credit score than just up and leaving.

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John Boettcher

Co-Founder of Apartment School and a previous renter turned owner of many multi-family properties across the United States, with many years of experience in all aspects of the apartment, real estate, and investing world.

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