How to Transfer a Rental Lease

A man handing over keys and an agreement to be signed.
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Breaking a rental lease is potentially very costly and can tarnish your rental history. However, if you find that you need to move out of your home before your rental lease is up, you may not have to break your lease. Instead, you can legally transfer your rental lease by assigning it to a new tenant, or you can sublease your home to another renter until your lease is up. You should get your landlord's written permission for an assignment or sublease, especially if your current lease prohibits lease transfers.


Fully Transferring With A Lease Assignment

You can legally "assign" your lease to a third party with your landlord's approval. You, your landlord and the new renter must sign a residential lease assignment document. A lease assignment transfers all or part of your obligation under the original lease agreement. Depending on how its drafted, the assignment can eliminate your financial responsibilities for rent payments and the leased property. Otherwise, in the event the new tenant fails to pay rent, damages the premises or violates other lease conditions during your original lease period, you may be liable.


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Everyone Must Agree to the Assignment

A basic assignment document includes your name, the landlord's name and the name of the renter taking over your lease. Include the rental home's address, lease terms and the expiration date of your original lease. Including a statement that your responsibility for future rent and damages ends when you vacate can help you avoid future liability. However, many landlords may not agree to such a clause when transferring your lease, as it effectively eliminates you as a guarantor for the new tenant. All parties must sign and date the assignment document.


Consult a Professional

Consult an expert such as a real estate attorney well-versed in your local and state landlord-tenant laws to find out about the specifics of transferring your lease. Understanding your rights as a tenant transferring a lease can save you money and stress in the long run if the new renter or landlord fails to comply with the assignment. Laws regarding transfers vary, with landlords having rights to prohibit transfers altogether, or allowing them under certain circumstances and with certain conditions.


Consider Subleasing If You Can't Assign

If your landlord doesn't agree to transfer your lease through assignment, subleasing your rental may be a viable alternative. Subleasing involves renting the unit to a third party for a specified amount of time. Although you don't transfer the lease to the new renter, you transfer possession of the property and retain your rights and responsibilities as the original tenant. You remain responsible for the rent and the premises if the subletter doesn't pay or she violates lease terms. Check your lease agreement for limitations regarding subleasing and consult a legal expert about your rights under a sublet agreement.



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