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How does a Broken Lease affect me?

I have had several prospects reach out to me with this very question / concern. What do you do in the event of a broken lease? Don’t throw your money away on applications fees only to keep getting denied time and time again.

Below I will discuss tips on what you can do to if you're contemplating breaking your lease due to maintenance issues and how to properly fight it, what you can expect when moving to a new place with a broken lease, what options do you have with more than one (1) broken lease.

1. My place was burglarized. My place flooded. My AC / Heater does not work. There are rodents in my home. These are a handful of reasons to fight a broken lease. If you have evidence that you tried to address these issues with management and they continued to ignore you, then, I would encourage you to fight it.

I heard stories regarding Hurricane Harvey where people’s places flooded and they had to move due to mold issues or because they lost everything. Some properties labeled it as a broken lease now affecting their credit. “According to Texas law, tenants are still legally liable for the rent even if an apartment is damaged.” Properties by law are required to make sure the place you are renting is livable and does not affect your safety and health. “Tenants can go to justice court without an attorney to obtain a repair order.”

Now, regarding criminal activity please note “a landlord isn't responsible for the actions of others” and is not deemed a reason to break your lease unfortunately. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t speak to your landlord and find a solution. Try to come to an agreement that would benefit you and your landlord. This will show your landlord you want to settle this matter properly and find a solution that helps you feel more secure but also does not leave them without a tenant.

It’s very important to document everything. In the event, you broke your lease, or the property wants to report the broken lease on your credit be prepared to show written / physical proof that you attempted to resolve the matter amicably / legally. The problem is often people walk away from their lease without taking the proper steps first. I know it can be frustrating to not feeling heard, or not feeling comfortable where you are, but remember the decision you are making in the moment will affect you long term and it’s better to do things the “right way” the first time. There are many resources and housing attorneys who can answer your questions.

Lastly, if you negotiate something with your landlord and they are willing to release you from your lease make sure to get everything in writing. Protect yourself from any “verbal contracts” make sure you can prove the agreement.

2. Financially, I could no longer pay rent. We all know things happen in life. The financial obligations can become too great. You may have lost your job, you may have had medical issues, or business has slowed down. Before you break a lease, I would recommend you talk to your landlord first. Explain the issues you are facing. Some places will honor you being upfront instead of ignoring them and just moving elsewhere. If you have been a good tenant and always paid on time you would be surprised to see how properties will work with you.

Supposing, you did break your lease due to one of the above reasons, or any other reason you may have, please note there are several properties that will work with people who have up to (1) broken lease. Now, what can you expect in this case? They may require you to pay a higher security deposit, up to one (1) month’s full rent as the security deposit on apartments, or up to 2-3 month’s full rent security deposit on privately owned properties. You may have to be flexible with the location. Accept you may not get your "dream" apartment at first. If you have not established rental history since the broken lease I recommend focusing on that first. Even with a broken lease if a property can see you have good rental history since the previous broken lease they will most likely work with you. If you paid the broken lease and were not left owing money most the time that will show you have fulfilled your financial responsibility to the previous landlord.

My Story. In 2012, I found myself in a difficult situation. I could no longer afford to finish out my lease due difficulties I was facing. I was halfway through my lease and I spoke to my landlord. I explained my situation, I negotiated that I would pay my rent until a new tenant was found. The apartment was listed and I continued to pay the rent until a new tenant took over about 60 days later. I was then released from my lease obligation since I held up my part of the agreement. Since I always paid on time they were willing to work with me

3. More than one (1) broken lease. When you have more than one broken lease, there are still options. It may take a little more time to find a place. Also, I recommend to always be honest from the start. Save yourself money on application fees and explain the situation. Ask what their criteria is and if they are willing to work with you?

My first recommendations: If your leases were not broken for a legitimate reason, and/or you did not fight it properly then I recommend paying it. By paying your broken leases it shows you are taking responsibility. Landlords will see this and might be willing to work with you.

Most of the time, judgments for housing do not go away and when you want to purchase a home one day lenders look at this. Call the company who carries the debt and work out a payment plan. Another possibility is you may rent from a private landlord but expect to pay sometimes two (2) months full rent as a security deposit. Let’s say you have a monthly budget of $900/mo you will be asked for $1800 for a security deposit plus your 1st full month's rent. Are you willing to pay this?

It all comes down to communicating. I know not every situation works out as mine did but the more documentation you have the better. Also, if you do not make it a habit of breaking leases then most the time properties will try to be understanding and give you another chance under certain criteria.

I'd love to help you! Call/Text - (832) 460-6670 | Email Me - Houston Apartment Locator | Alexandra Torres with J. Lindsey Properties

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