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How to Manage Your Lease During a Breakup

Updated: Mar 16, 2023

Breaking Up and Breaking Lease: What You Need to Know

Breaking up with a fiancée or significant other is tough. Not only do you have to deal with the emotional fallout, but there are also practical considerations that need to be addressed, such as shared assets, finances, and living arrangements. If you and your ex are living together and renting a place, you may be wondering if you can break the lease and move out. The short answer is that it depends on your situation.

Here are some things you need to know about breaking a lease after a breakup:


One option to consider is finding a reasonable alternative tenant to take your place. If you find someone who meets the landlord's requirements, they can take over your tenancy, allowing you to move out without penalty. This option works best if you act quickly and start looking for a replacement tenant as soon as possible to minimize the landlord's loss of rent.

Speak with Your Landlord

Another option is to speak proactively with your landlord about your situation and see if you can work out a solution. You can discuss the possibility of breaking the lease, transferring it to someone else, or negotiating a lease termination fee. You may also want to check if the tenant who wants to stay in the residence meets the income requirements to take over the lease themselves.

Forced Termination

Unfortunately, if you and your ex both signed the lease, you are both responsible for the remainder of the lease or until you both agree to terminate it. You cannot force your ex to break the lease or make them pay for the remaining months if they choose to stay.

Lease Break Fee

Your landlord can charge you the lesser of the full amount of the lease or the reasonable time it takes to re-rent the property, which usually does not be more than a couple of months. Be sure to check your rental agreement for any lease break fees that may apply.

Repair Issues

If your place is uninhabitable due to disrepair or damage, you can make a written request to your landlord for repairs. If your landlord does not start the repairs within ten days of receipt of the request, you can break your lease without charge by giving your landlord another written notice. However, you should always speak with an attorney before breaking your lease to ensure that you are protected from any legal ramifications.

Ending a Tenancy without Cause

The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) provides mechanisms for ending a tenancy without cause. You should speak with an attorney to see if any of these options apply to your case.

Final Thoughts

Breaking up is hard, and breaking a lease can be even harder. If you are facing a situation where you need to break your lease after a breakup, it's important to understand your rights and responsibilities. Talk to your landlord, explore your options, and seek legal advice if necessary. By taking a proactive approach, you can move on with your life while minimizing any negative impact on your finances and future.


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