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How to Get Out of a Lease if Moving Out of State
How to Get Out of a Rental Lease Early Due to Family Hardship
If unforeseen circumstances, such as a job transfer or divorce, leave you with no option but to move out of state, you may face a problem when the time comes to break your lease. A lease is a legally binding rental contract. Unless you have legitimate grounds to break the lease and move out early, you are still legally responsible for paying rent on the property until the lease expires or the landlord finds a new tenant. Depending on your state’s landlord/tenant laws and the specific terms of your contract, you may be able to break your lease early — freeing you for your out-of-state move.
Read through a copy of your lease, paying close attention to the early termination requirements. Some leases offer early termination without penalty for those who must relocate due to no fault of their own. For example, some leases contain provisions allowing renters to break their leases due to a job transfer or new employment.
Pay your landlord an early termination fee. Depending on the provisions in your lease, you may have the right to end your lease early without an explanation provided you pay a fee to the landlord for the privilege.
Explain your situation to the landlord and ask him to release you from your rental lease. Even if your lease does not contain any provisions allowing you to terminate the agreement early, your landlord can voluntarily release you from your obligation if he chooses.
Multiply the number of months left on the lease by the amount you pay each month. The product of your calculation represents the total amount you owe on the lease. By paying the landlord the total amount remaining on the lease, you satisfy your payment obligations and can proceed with your out-of-state move.
Locate a suitable tenant to replace you. A landlord’s refusal to permit you to end your lease early is often based on financial concerns. If the home is empty, the landlord loses money she would have otherwise collected in rent. When you find a responsible tenant to replace you, the landlord does not lose money and is more likely to allow you to walk away from your lease.
Visit the courthouse and read through your state’s civil code for legal grounds under which a tenant can terminate a lease early. Regardless of your true motive, if a problem exists in your apartment or rental home that your landlord will not or cannot fix, you may have legal grounds under which to break your lease without your landlord’s consent. For example, if your home suffers from a considerable insect infestation that your landlord will not address or cannot remedy, your state may permit you to break your lease to find more suitable housing.
Some states maintain their civil codes on the state’s website — saving you a trip to the courthouse to conduct your research.
If your lease does not contain any early termination provisions, consider subleasing your home to a responsible tenant after you move. The tenant then pays his monthly rent to you and you pay it to the landlord — saving you from the steep fines and legal problems you could face when terminating your lease.
- You may lose your initial security deposit for ending your lease early.
- You cannot simply walk away from your rental home or apartment and consider the lease terminated. Your landlord can sue you for unpaid rent and damages when you move out without formally terminating the lease or giving the landlord proper notice of your intentions.
- MSN Real Estate; Breaking Your Lease; Sally Anderson; 2011
- California Tenant Law; Breaking Your Lease; Ken Carlson; January 2006
- Bankrate.com; How to Break a Lease and Stay Creditworthy; Steve McLinden; February 2010
- Georgia Consumer Protection Division. "If I Terminate My Lease Early, Can My Landlord Keep My Security Deposit and Charge Me a Fee?" Accessed April 6, 2020.
- Oregon State Bar. "Fees and Deposits." Accessed April 6, 2020.
- Wisconsin State Legislature. "704.29 Recovery of Rent and Damages by Landlord; Mitigation." Accessed April 6, 2020.
- Realtor.com®. "Beyond the Security Deposit: When Can Your Landlord Sue You for Property Damage?" Accessed April 6, 2020.
- The Judicial Branch of California. "Security Deposits." Accessed April 6, 2020.
- Updater. "Breaking a Lease: Everything to Know." Accessed April 6, 2020.
- New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. "Lease Information Bulletin," Page 3. Accessed April 6, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Could Late Rent Payments or Problems With a Landlord Be in My Credit Report?" Accessed April 6, 2020.
- Experian. "Does Breaking a Lease Affect Your Credit?" Accessed April 6, 2020.
- Experian. "How Long Does It Take for Information to Come Off Your Credit Reports?" Accessed April 6, 2020.
- New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. "Lease Information Bulletin," Page 2. Accessed April 6, 2020.
- Michigan Department of Attorney General. "Other Legal Protections and Rights Provided By State And Federal Law." Accessed Apr. 23, 2020.
- Some states maintain their civil codes on the state's website --- saving you a trip to the courthouse to conduct your research.
- If your lease does not contain any early termination provisions, consider subleasing your home to a responsible tenant after you move. The tenant then pays his monthly rent to you and you pay it to the landlord --- saving you from the steep fines and legal problems you could face when terminating your lease.
Ciele Edwards holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and has been a consumer advocate and credit specialist for more than 10 years. She currently works in the real-estate industry as a consumer credit and debt specialist. Edwards has experience working with collections, liens, judgments, bankruptcies, loans and credit law.
Lease takeovers: 5 things to know before you take on someone’s lease
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Taking over someone’s lease could seem like a great way to “test drive” your dream wheels or get a specific type of vehicle that you need for the short term.
A lease takeover can help you solve a temporary car need without locking yourself into a typical two- to four-year lease or buying a new car . In a lease takeover, you take over someone else’s lease before it ends, leaving you responsible for the remainder of the lease. But these short-term leases can come with risks.
Before you agree to a lease takeover, consider possible drawbacks, including a variety of fees and a potentially higher cost of financing than you could get on your own auto lease .
- You inherit the monthly payment as-is
- Mileage could be very limited
- Wear and tear could wear out your wallet
- You may be hit with taxes
- You might pay even more fees
1. You inherit the monthly payment as-is
When you take over a lease , you don’t get to renegotiate its terms. Instead, you inherit the same monthly payment and lease terms that the original lessee negotiated.
Unfortunately, some people don’t negotiate as well as others — if at all. In other cases, the original lessee’s credit may not have been good , which can result in a higher cost of financing. Or maybe that person didn’t make a down payment — called a capitalized cost reduction on a lease — to reduce their monthly payments.
Depending on your credit and finances, each of these scenarios could lead to a higher monthly payment than you might have if you had leased a car yourself.
What you can do: Before moving forward with a lease takeover, shop around and compare lease swap opportunities involving the same make, model and year to help find the best deal for your financial situation.
2. Mileage could be very limited
As with the monthly payment, you also must stick to the mileage limits on the original car lease agreement when you take over a lease. If you go over the limits, you could face excess mileage charges from 10 cents to 25 cents per mile or more. Lease swap sites like SwapALease.com and LeaseTrader.com list the car’s current mileage along with the remaining miles on the lease or the lease’s mileage limit.
What you can do: If you really want the car but expect to exceed the mileage cap by the end of the lease, ask about mileage overage charges so you can plan accordingly. At the end of the lease, you’ll likely have to pay a fee for every mile you drove over the limit.
3. Wear and tear could wear out your wallet
If you’re lucky, the lease car you take over will have been immaculately maintained. On the other hand, the car may have been in a few fender benders. Either way, you’re responsible for the car’s condition after you take over the lease. And if the vehicle has a lot of dents, broken parts, burns or stains, worn tires or other damage, you may be hit with a charge at the end of the lease for excessive wear and tear.
This fee may also apply if the original lessee didn’t get the car serviced based on the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance schedule. You could be charged for failing to properly maintain the car or for the cost of completing overdue services.
What you can do: If you’re considering taking over the lease of a specific car, ask the original lessee for service records to confirm the car underwent required maintenance. You might also order a vehicle history report , which can tell you if the car was in a major accident or has sustained any damage.
4. You may be hit with taxes
Each state has its own laws regarding how it taxes a car lease . Depending on your state laws, you might need to pay tax on your lease takeover. In some states, the sales tax must be paid upfront at the start of the lease. Some states allow the tax to be rolled into the monthly lease payment. And if you take over the lease of someone who lives in a nearby state, you may incur taxes in your state.
What you can do: Research the laws in your state to find out if you have to pay sales tax and how much it will add to the cost of your lease transfer. This can help prevent the surprise of a hefty tax bill.
5. You might pay even more fees
On top of potential fees for excess mileage or wear and tear, you may have to pay the following when you take over the lease or at the end of the lease:
- Lease transfer fees: Some leasing companies charge for transferring a car’s lease.
- Credit application fee: The company that has drawn up the lease you’re taking over may charge you for checking your credit.
- Disposition fee: When you return the car at the end of the lease, you might be charged to cover the costs associated with preparing and selling your car, such as vehicle cleaning, inspection fees, auction fees and depreciation.
What you can do: Confirm any fees and who is responsible for them — you or the original lessee — before agreeing to a lease takeover.
A lease takeover can be a great arrangement for both the person transferring a lease and for the person taking it over. The original lessee gets the lease payment off their hands, and you get the wheels you need — or want — without a long-term financial commitment.
If you’re planning to take over a lease, just remember to do your homework. Make sure the car was cared for and take the time to understand any potential fees or taxes you’ll need to pay at the time of the lease takeover or at the end of the lease.
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Estimate how many miles per gallon you got on a recent trip, commute or any kind of drive you took with our mileage calculator .
- Types of lease
- Length of leases
- Specific regulations for asset classes
In what ways, if at all, can a tenant transfer its rights to a third party and what restrictions can be imposed on such transfers?
Spanish law differentiates between urban leases ( arrendamientos urbanos ) and ground leases ( arrendamientos rústicos ).
The Urban Leases Act differentiates between commercial and residential leases, with a more protective legal regime applying to tenants holding urban residential leases. Commercial leases are governed firstly by the agreement of the landlord and the tenant and, in the absence of agreement, by the Title III of the Urban Leases Act (Sections 29-35). As an additional right, the Civil Code will be applied.
The Ground Leases Act (Ley de Arrendamientos Rústicos) applies to ground leases, such as the lease of a farm including all machinery and the right to cultivate crops, etc. The ground leases are governed by what is expressly agreed by the parties, as long as they do not oppose the Ground Leases Act, in default of express regulation by the Civil Code, and, failing that, applicable custom and practice.
For hotels, a regular lease is relatively rare. The parties will either agree upon a management contract or will let the hotel building, together with its inventory, on the basis of a fixed rent plus a rent based on the income of the hotel.
Last modified 3 Apr 2023
There is no minimum length laid down for commercial leases. In commercial leases the parties may freely agree on the duration.
The legal framework is the same for all leases. They are governed by the provisions of the Urban Leases Act (as amended by Royal Decree Law 7/2019 ( Medidas Urgentes en Materia de Vivienda y Alquiler) or the Civil Code.
Under Royal Decree 235/2013, a copy of the energy efficiency certificate must be provided to the tenant on the execution of a new lease. Industrial premises are excluded from this obligation.
- Security of tenure
- Recovering real estate from a tenant
- Early termination
- Termination by a third party
- Financial security
The Spanish Civil Code provides for an automatic right to renew the term of the lease tacitly for periods equal to the term for which the rent has been fixed (months, quarters, etc) if the term of the lease comes to an end and none of the parties express an intention to terminate the lease. This right can however be waived if so provided in an agreement.
If a fixed-term lease has been agreed then notice of termination is not necessary. A termination notice is only required if the lease is for an unlimited term or the parties made other specific provisions requiring this.
The Spanish Civil Procedure Law establishes a procedure for obtaining the eviction of the premises if the tenant does not hand over the leased property to the landlord once the lease has expired. The landlord is entitled to file a claim to recover possession, once the claim is accepted for processing, the tenant shall have ten days to respond in writing. Within five days after the answer to the claim, the Court Legal Secretary shall appoint the parties to a hearing which shall take place within a maximum term of one month from the appointment.
The legal proceedings term may vary from six months to one year until repossession of the leased property.
Where the parties agreed on a fixed-term lease, the landlord may only terminate the agreement before its expiry in the event of a material breach of the lease by the tenant. The Spanish Civil Procedure Law establishes a procedure for obtaining the eviction of the premises if the tenant does not hand over the leased property to the landlord once the lease has expired. The landlord is entitled to file a claim to recover possession, once the claim is accepted for processing, the tenant shall have ten days to respond in writing. Within five days after the answer to the claim, the Court Legal Secretary shall appoint the parties to a hearing which shall take place within a maximum term of one month from the appointment.
No, neither the government nor any other authority may directly intervene to terminate a lease. Leased property can be subject to compulsory purchase but this is fairly infrequent and is subject to strict conditions.
However, the purchaser of a leased property may try to terminate the agreement on the grounds of the change of ownership. To avoid these situations, it would be advisable to register the lease at the relevant Land Registry. The cost and expenses involved in the registration are the main disadvantages in this regard.
To avoid the change of ownership of the leased premises entailing the termination of the lease agreement, it is common for the parties to agree a clause for which the new owner will be subrogated in the rights and obligations of the landlord. For this purpose, it is common that the landlord undertakes to inform the prospective new owner of the existence of the lease.
As well as the legal deposit prescribed by law, consisting of a sum equivalent to two months' rent for non-residential leases, most landlords ask for a sum by way of security equivalent to between six and 12 months' rent, either as a deposit or in the form of a bank guarantee. Parent company guarantees are also common via comfort letters.
- Use by the tenant
Transferring the lease
Leases generally specify that the premises can only be put to a particular use. Tenants are also restricted by planning/zoning law to uses which have been approved by the planning/zoning authority or are in line with past uses of the property.
Under the Spanish Civil Code, parties are free to agree the conditions of the lease as they wish provided they don’t contravene any law or moral code, or pose a threat to public order.
Standard leases require the landlord's prior written consent to any alterations. If the landlord gives consent the tenant is often obliged to restore the premises to their original condition at the end of the lease. Alternatively, the parties can agree for any alterations to be left in place, in which case compensation may payable by the landlord. However, this depends on what the parties have negotiated.
When the leased property is used for a business or professional activity, the Spanish Urban Leases Act allows the tenant to sublet the property or assign the lease agreement without obtaining the landlord’s consent.
In the event of a partial sublease by the tenant the landlord is entitled to increase the rent by 10% and by 20% if the lease agreement is assigned or the property is completely sublet.
Any change in the identity of the tenant as a result of a merger, spin off or corporate transformation is not deemed to be an assignment, but the landlord is still entitled to increase the rent as set out in the previous paragraph.
The landlord must be notified of any assignment or subletting within one month of the date they were agreed.
Tenants can be prevented from transferring their rights to others by specific provisions in the lease agreement.
- Fixed or variable rents
- Changes in rent
- VAT on rent
In agreements for the lease of retail premises it is not unusual to agree a variable rent (together with, or alternative to a fixed rent). The variable rent will be a percentage on the sales made in the premises and may either remain stable or be ratcheted linked to the level of sales.
Regarding fixed rent, the parties are free to agree whether there will be annual rent reviews or not. If no express mention is made, no review will take place. If a review is agreed in principle but no review system is specifically provided for, then the rent will be increased or decreased annually, in line with changes in the Competition Guarantee Index created by Law 2/2015, of 30 March, on De-indexation of the Spanish Economy.
In practice, in most leases, the rent will be increased or decreased annually, in line with the Spanish National Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures for the 12 months immediately preceding the date of each adjustment.
Other than the annual review, in leases longer than five years it is not uncommon for the parties to agree to a rent review mechanism based on an independent assessment of the market rent before agreeing on any adjustment. An expert will calculate the market rent for the property and the rent will then be increased or decreased accordingly.
Lease agreements on commercial premises that are owned and leased by businesses are subject to VAT at the rate of 21 percent.
- Initial costs
- Communal costs
- Repairing the leased space
- Costs of utilities
Most service charges, including taxes, will be passed on to the tenants or occupiers.
These taxes include VAT, payable at 21 percent of the rent charged if the tenant is using the premises to develop its business activities, and personal income tax (impuesto de la renta de las personas fisicas), which takes the form of a retention of 19 percent of the rent, if the landlord is a private individual.
In most cases the tenant will enter into direct contracts with utility providers.
This depends on the contractual agreement, but service charges are generally passed on to the tenants pro rata.
Under the Urban Leases Act, the landlord is responsible for the maintenance and repair of leased property; however, the parties to a commercial lease are free to allocate this responsibility to the tenant.
Small repairs due to ordinary wear and tear will be borne by the tenant.
Contracts regarding telecommunications services are usually concluded with each tenant individually so there may be several telecommunications agreements affecting any one property. Contracts relating to utilities which serve multiple occupiers are usually agreed by the landlord, although the costs are normally transferred to the tenants by contractual agreement.
The parties need to agree on which insurance policies each of them should take out. It is very common for leases to provide for either the tenant or landlord to take out the following policies:
- An all-risk comprehensive insurance policy to cover, among other things, damage caused by theft, fire, smoke, water and explosion, as well as any other related risks to the contents of the property (including furniture, machinery and stock)
- A civil liability insurance policy (including employer's liability insurance) to cover any liability arising from business activities carried on the property
- A business interruption insurance policy, to cover any loss of profits caused by interruptions to business activities
- An all-risk comprehensive insurance policy to cover, among other things, the cost of rebuilding the property in the event of damage
- A civil liability insurance policy, to cover any liabilities the landlord may incur as the legal owner of the property
Assignment of Lease
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What is an Assignment of Lease?
The assignment of lease is a title document that transfers all rights possessed by a lessee or tenant to a property to another party. The assignee takes the assignor’s place in the landlord-tenant relationship.
You can view an example of a lease assignment here .
How Lease Assignment Works
In cases where a tenant wants to or needs to get out of their lease before it expires, lease assignment provides a legal option to assign or transfer rights of the lease to someone else. For instance, if in a commercial lease a business leases a place for 12 months but the business moves or shuts down after 10 months, the person can transfer the lease to someone else through an assignment of the lease. In this case, they will not have to pay rent for the last two months as the new assigned tenant will be responsible for that.
However, before the original tenant can be released of any responsibilities associated with the lease, other requirements need to be satisfied. The landlord needs to consent to the lease transfer through a “License to Assign” document. It is crucial to complete this document before moving on to the assignment of lease as the landlord may refuse to approve the assignment.
Difference Between Assignment of Lease and Subletting
A transfer of the remaining interest in a lease, also known as assignment, is possible when implied rights to assign exist. Some leases do not allow assignment or sharing of possessions or property under a lease. An assignment ensures the complete transfer of the rights to the property from one tenant to another.
The assignor is no longer responsible for rent or utilities and other costs that they might have had under the lease. Here, the assignee becomes the tenant and takes over all responsibilities such as rent. However, unless the assignee is released of all liabilities by the landlord, they remain responsible if the new tenant defaults.
A sublease is a new lease agreement between the tenant (or the sublessor) and a third-party (or the sublessee) for a portion of the lease. The original lease agreement between the landlord and the sublessor (or original tenant) still remains in place. The original tenant still remains responsible for all duties set under the lease.
Here are some key differences between subletting and assigning a lease:
- Under a sublease, the original lease agreement still remains in place.
- The original tenant retains all responsibilities under a sublease agreement.
- A sublease can be for less than all of the property, such as for a room, general area, portion of the leased premises, etc.
- Subleasing can be for a portion of the lease term. For instance, a tenant can sublease the property for a month and then retain it after the third-party completes their month-long sublet.
- Since the sublease agreement is between the tenant and the third-party, rent is often negotiable, based on the term of the sublease and other circumstances.
- The third-party in a sublease agreement does not have a direct relationship with the landlord.
- The subtenant will need to seek consent of both the tenant and the landlord to make any repairs or changes to the property during their sublease.
Here is more on an assignment of lease here .
Parties Involved in Lease Assignment
There are three parties involved in a lease assignment – the landlord or owner of the property, the assignor and the assignee. The original lease agreement is between the landlord and the tenant, or the assignor. The lease agreement outlines the duties and responsibilities of both parties when it comes to renting the property. Now, when the tenant decides to assign the lease to a third-party, the third-party is known as the assignee. The assignee takes on the responsibilities laid under the original lease agreement between the assignor and the landlord. The landlord must consent to the assignment of the lease prior to the assignment.
For example, Jake is renting a commercial property for his business from Paul for two years beginning January 2013 up until January 2015. In January 2014, Jake suffers a financial crisis and has to close down his business to move to a different city. Jake doesn’t want to continue paying rent on the property as he will not be using it for a year left of the lease. Jake’s friend, John would soon be turning his digital business into a brick-and-mortar store. John has been looking for a space to kick start his venture. Jake can assign his space for the rest of the lease term to John through an assignment of lease. Jake will need to seek the approval of his landlord and then begin the assignment process. Here, Jake will be the assignor who transfers all his lease related duties and responsibilities to John, who will be the assignee.
You can read more on lease agreements here .
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Assignment of Lease From Seller to Buyer
In case of a residential property, a landlord can assign his leases to the new buyer of the building. The landlord will assign the right to collect rent to the buyer. This will allow the buyer to collect any and all rent from existing tenants in that property. This assignment can also include the assignment of security deposits, if the parties agree to it. This type of assignment provides protection to the buyer so they can collect rent on the property.
The assignment of a lease from the seller to a buyer also requires that all tenants are made aware of the sale of the property. The buyer-seller should give proper notice to the tenants along with a notice of assignment of lease signed by both the buyer and the seller. Tenants should also be informed about the contact information of the new landlord and the payment methods to be used to pay rent to the new landlord.
You can read more on buyer-seller lease assignments here .
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I have been practicing law exclusively in the areas of business and real estate transactions since joining the profession in 2003. I began my career in the Corporate/Finance department of Sidley's Los Angeles office. I am presently a solo practitioner/freelancer, and service both business- and attorney-clients in those roles.
My name is Ryenne Shaw and I help business owners build businesses that operate as assets instead of liabilities, increase in value over time and build wealth. My areas of expertise include corporate formation and business structure, contract law, employment/labor law, business risk and compliance and intellectual property. I also serve as outside general counsel to several businesses across various industries nationally. I spent most of my early legal career assisting C.E.O.s, General Counsel, and in-house legal counsel of both large and smaller corporations in minimizing liability, protecting business assets and maximizing profits. While working with many of these entities, I realized that smaller entities are often underserved. I saw that smaller business owners weren’t receiving the same level of legal support larger corporations relied upon to grow and sustain. I knew this was a major contributor to the ceiling that most small businesses hit before they’ve even scratched the surface of their potential. And I knew at that moment that all of this lack of knowledge and support was creating a huge wealth gap. After over ten years of legal experience, I started my law firm to provide the legal support small to mid-sized business owners and entrepreneurs need to grow and protect their brands, businesses, and assets. I have a passion for helping small to mid-sized businesses and startups grow into wealth-building assets by leveraging the same legal strategies large corporations have used for years to create real wealth. I enjoy connecting with my clients, learning about their visions and identifying ways to protect and maximize the reach, value and impact of their businesses. I am a strong legal writer with extensive litigation experience, including both federal and state (and administratively), which brings another element to every contract I prepare and the overall counsel and value I provide. Some of my recent projects include: - Negotiating & Drafting Commercial Lease Agreements - Drafting Trademark Licensing Agreements - Drafting Ambassador and Influencer Agreements - Drafting Collaboration Agreements - Drafting Service Agreements for service-providers, coaches and consultants - Drafting Master Service Agreements and SOWs - Drafting Terms of Service and Privacy Policies - Preparing policies and procedures for businesses in highly regulated industries - Drafting Employee Handbooks, Standard Operations and Procedures (SOPs) manuals, employment agreements - Creating Employer-employee infrastructure to ensure business compliance with employment and labor laws - Drafting Independent Contractor Agreements and Non-Disclosure/Non-Competition/Non-Solicitation Agreements - Conducting Federal Trademark Searches and filing trademark applications - Preparing Trademark Opinion Letters after conducting appropriate legal research - Drafting Letters of Opinion for Small Business Loans - Drafting and Responding to Cease and Desist Letters I service clients throughout the United States across a broad range of industries.
I have a background in Criminal Law, Family Law, Contract Law, and Environmental Law. I also have five (5) degrees in the following: Here are my degrees and background: 1) B.S. in Environmental, Soil, and Water Sciences 2) A.S. in Pre-Medical Sciences (anatomy, physiology, medical terminology) 3) A.S. in Aircraft Non-Destructive Inspection (science of x-rays, cracks in metal, liquid penetrant, magnetic particle inspections, ultrasonic inspections, and spectrophotometric oil analysis) 4) Master's in Natural Resources Law Studies (1 year focus in the environmental and pollution laws (Hazardous Waste Laws such as RCRA, CERCLA, FIFRA, Natural Resource laws such as ESA, CWA, CAA, FWPCA, Environmental Law, Sustainable Development, and Global Climate Change issues) 5) Juris Doctor and certificate in Native American Law
I am a lawyer in Glendale, Arizona. I have practiced in contract work including buy/sell agreements, contracts for the purchase of goods and services and real estate. I also practice in bankruptcy law and sports and entertainment law.
Gregory S. Davis is a native of New York and is a graduate of the Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law at Campbell University. He also holds an undergraduate degree in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Bowie State University. Prior to entering the practice of law, Greg was a Trust officer for one of the largest U.S. Banks, an adjunct professor of finance at Meredith College and a Series 7 licensed financial advisor. Greg is currently the owner of The Law Office of Gregory S. Davis, PLLC (gsdavislaw.com) focusing on Estate Planning, Real Estate and Business Law. Greg is also an adjunct professor of Business Law at Wake Tech.
I am a dual qualified (Illinois; England & Wales) transactional lawyer with about 6 years of legal experience. I'm very commercial and pragmatic in my approach, and I provide clear and timely service. I have worked in two of the top international "big law" firms focusing on corporate, private equity, insurance and financial services work. I'm now working in-house at a Fortune 500 company and have a wide range of experience with commercial and corporate contracts as well as legal and regulatory research.
I have had my own law practice since 2014 and I enjoy solving my clients’ problems. That’s why I constantly stay on top of the latest developments in the law and business of startups, entertainment, art, intellectual property, and commercial enterprise. I constantly keep learning because everything I learn helps me make my client’s life better. I assist clients in all aspects of copyright, trademark, contract, trade secret, business, nonprofit, employment, mediation, art, fashion, and entertainment law. Even though I am licensed to practice law in NY, I have worked for clients all over the country and even in Europe, Africa, and Latin America. No matter the client, I always look for ways to protect their assets, artworks, businesses, and brands with strategies to help them grow. I am a fluent bilingual legal professional who can analyze complex legal and business problems and solve them creatively for the benefit of my clients. I am detail-oriented and attentive which makes me excellent at negotiating, drafting, and revising all types of agreements and deals. I advise creatives and companies on intellectual property issues, risk management, and strategic planning. My clients love what I do for them because I employ a practical, client-tailored, and results-oriented approach to their case, no matter how small.
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Lease Definition and Complete Guide to Renting
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What Is a Lease?
Understanding a lease, special considerations, types of leases.
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A lease is a contract outlining the terms under which one party agrees to rent an asset—in this case, property—owned by another party. It guarantees the lessee , also known as the tenant, use of the property and guarantees the lessor (the property owner or landlord) regular payments for a specified period in exchange. Both the lessee and the lessor face consequences if they fail to uphold the terms of the contract. A lease is a form of incorporeal right .
- A lease is a legal, binding contract outlining the terms under which one party agrees to rent property owned by another party.
- It guarantees the tenant or lessee use of the property and guarantees the property owner or landlord regular payments for a specified period in exchange.
- Residential leases tend to be the same for all tenants, but there are several different types of commercial leases.
- Consequences for breaking leases range from mild to damaging, depending on the circumstances under which they are broken.
- Certain protected groups are able to vacate their leases without any consequences, for which some form of proof is usually required.
Leases are legal and binding contracts that set forth the terms of rental agreements in real estate and real and personal property. These contracts stipulate the duties of each party to effect and maintain the agreement and are enforceable by each. For example, a residential property lease includes:
- The property address
- Landlord and tenant responsibilities
- The rent amount
- A required security deposit
- Rent due date
- Consequences for breach of contract
- The duration of the lease
- Pet policies
- Other essential information
Not all leases are designed the same, but all of them have some common features. These include the rent amount, the due date of rent, the expiration date of the lease. The landlord requires the tenant to sign the lease, thereby agreeing to its terms before occupying the property.
Most residential leases are standard with the same terms for all tenants. Leases for commercial properties , on the other hand, are usually negotiated in accordance with the specific lessee and typically run from one to 10 years, with larger tenants often having longer, complex lease agreements.
The landlord and tenant should retain a copy of the lease for their records. This is especially helpful if and when any disputes arise.
Consequences for breaking leases range from mild to damaging, depending on the circumstances under which they are broken. A tenant who breaks a lease without prior negotiation with the landlord faces a civil lawsuit, a derogatory mark on their credit report , or both. As a result of breaking a lease, a tenant may encounter problems renting a new residence, as well as other issues associated with having negative entries on a credit report.
Tenants who need to break their leases must often negotiate with their landlords or seek legal counsel. In some cases, giving a certain amount of notice or forfeiting the security deposit allows tenants to break their leases with no further consequences.
Some leases have early termination clauses that allow tenants to terminate the contracts under a specific set of conditions (job-related relocation, divorce-induced hardship) or when their landlords do not fulfill their contractual obligations. For example, a tenant may be able to terminate a lease if the landlord does not make timely repairs to the property.
The terms of a lease cannot violate state or federal law . So a clause that allows a landlord to enter the premises at any time without notice or one that, via court action, grants a landlord to recover more than statutory limits allow is not enforceable.
Discrimination during the rental process is illegal. If you think you’ve been discriminated against in the course of your search or application, based on your race, religion, sex, marital status, national origin, disability, or age, there are steps you can take—such as filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.
Certain groups of people have more leeway in ending leases early. Chief among these are members of the military. Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, they can break their leases if they receive active-duty orders, requiring them to relocate for more than 90 days.
Many states allow domestic violence victims to break leases without negative consequences. The abuse must have been fairly recent (normally within the last year) and the tenant usually should show some form of proof, such as a court order of protection or a police report documenting the violence.
Some states also allow renters, especially older adults, to terminate a lease early due to disability, health conditions, or medical crises that make living in the current home untenable. Usually required is a letter from a local doctor, hospital, or other medical professional attesting to the health condition.
Even people in these protected groups must give landlords at least 30 days' notice, in writing, of their desire to break the lease.
Lease-Breaking in the COVID-19 Era
Coronavirus-induced shutdowns and financial hardships have caused many renters to wonder if they can get out of their leases without being penalized because of the pandemic. The short answer is no. Despite federal and eviction moratoriums , the pandemic does not relieve a tenant from their contractual obligations. Even in the era of COVID-19, if you end a lease early, you’re still responsible for your rent until the end date in your contract.
That said, there might be extenuating circumstances and exceptions. On Aug. 3, 2021, the Biden administration imposed a Center for Disease Control-recommended 60-day moratorium on evictions for failure to make rent or housing payments in areas experiencing high incidences of the Delta variant of the virus. However, on Aug. 26, 2021, the Supreme Court vacated the CDC order, effectively ending the eviction moratorium.
On Sept. 24, 2021, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would continue to offer COVID-19 forbearance to multifamily property owners. So if your landlord has a Fannie- or Freddie-backed mortgage, an FHA loan, or a VA loan, they must agree not to evict tenants solely for the nonpayment of rent, and allow flexibility in back payments.
Having lost the threat of evictions, landlords in these situations may be more lenient in letting a renter break a lease.
If you want to break your lease because of financial problems, there are rental assistance programs in place. The federal Emergency Rental Assistance program, for example, has thus far allocated just $3 billion of its $47 billion budget. You can learn about eligibility and finding a local assistance program or a counselor through consumerfinance.gov, the website of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Beyond residential leases, tenants who lease commercial properties have a variety of lease types available, all of which are structured to assign more responsibility on the tenant and provide greater up-front profit for the landlord.
Some commercial leases require the tenant to pay rent plus the landlord's operational costs, while others require tenants to pay rent plus property taxes and insurance. The four most common types of commercial real estate leases include:
- Single-Net Leases : In this kind of lease, the tenant is responsible for paying property taxes.
- Double-Net Leases: These leases make a tenant responsible for property taxes and insurance.
- Triple-Net Leases: Tenants who sign these leases pay property taxes, insurance, and maintenance costs.
- Gross Leases : Tenants pay rent while the landlord is responsible for other costs.
How Do Leases Work?
Leases are generally legally-binding contracts between two parties: the lessor and the lessee. They involve a piece of property rented out by the owner (the lessor) to the lessee or the tenant. Leases can be verbal agreements but are normally drawn up in writing. Both parties agree to the terms of the lease, including the rental amount, length of time for the contract, as well as any consequences that may result if either party doesn't uphold the terms and conditions of the contract.
What Benefits Do Leases Provide for Landlords and Tenants?
Signing a lease provides both landlords and tenants with clear terms and conditions outlining the relationship and the rental agreement. Doing so also establishes the rights and responsibilities of each party involved. For instance, leases provide both parties with structure, in that they establish the cost associated with renting and the length of time under which the lease is exercisable. This provides both parties with stability. A lease also gives both parties a clear understanding of what happens when either party breaks or goes against any of the terms laid out within the lease contract.
Can You Break a Lease?
Either party can break a lease. But doing so isn't advisable as there may be consequences involved. Tenants may be responsible to pay the landlord early release charges and/or the remaining balance to pay off the lease. In some cases, breaking a lease may even hurt a tenant's credit score. Landlords may have to provide tenants with alternate living spaces while others may face civil or legal challenges if they break their leases without cause. Regardless of whether you're a tenant or landlord, it's always a good idea to talk to the other party involved to avoid any negative consequences and end the lease amicably. Certain protected groups, such as active military members or victims of domestic violence, may break their leases without any consequences as long as they are able to provide some proof.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. " Complaints ."
United States Department of Justice. " The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) ."
United States Department of Justice. " Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) Questions and Answers for Servicemembers ," Page 2.
National Housing Law Project. " Housing Rights of Domestic Violence Survivors: A State and Local Law Compendium ," Page 9.
National Archives, Federal Register. " Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions To Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19 ."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). " CDC Issues Eviction Moratorium Order in Areas of Substantial and High Transmission ."
Supreme Court of the United States. " Supreme Court of the United States ."
FHFA. " FHFA Extends Availability of COVID-19 Multifamily Forbearance ."
U.S. Department of the Treasury. " Emergency Rental Assistance Program ."
U.S. Department of the Treasury. " Treasury Data: Amount of June Emergency Rental Assistance Resources to Households More Than All Previous Months Combined ."
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. " Help For Renters ."
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Apartment Lease Transfer
Apartment lease transfers.
With rent prices on the rise, renter employment changes (e.g. remote work situation), income changes, and apartment rental supply dwindling in 2023, we may see more lease terminations.
This exchange process is known by many names, including a lease assignment or lease takeover , but is widely called the Apartment Lease Transfer .
We’ve provided tips about transferring apartments within a building or a company’s portfolio of properties. In this post, we explore a transfer of a lease to someone not leasing from your current landlord (external).
Assuming Someone Else’s Rental Lease
In the past, taking over someone else’s lease was a relatively normal occurrence. Emergencies and changes aren’t anything new. When tenants spoke of ending their rental lease, their friends got first wind of the new rental opportunity. I myself benefited from this process many years ago by taking over a friend’s lease, after they bought a house.
You can legally transfer your lease in most states or countries. And in some cities such as New York City, Boston, Washington DC, Miami, San Francisco or Los Angeles , such transfers are a key way of acquiring a new rental unit. For renters, it’s a tough market out there.
Tenant Must Move and Break Their Lease
Sometimes transfers are unheard of or are discouraged. A few landlords won’t accept any transfer of leases, even though the tenant has the right to do so. Keep your cool and trust the process.
We have a list of sites below that have document and form templates, tips and more. You can manage these documents digitally via your ManageCasa tenant portal dashboard.
There Could Still Be Costs
And tenants often face a fee for breaking a lease or they may lose their security deposit upon termination. It makes sense for a tenant to have a friend or acquaintance take over the remainder of the lease, thus saving some money.
Note: a lease transfer is not the same as subletting . In the rare event a tenant sublets, they still have legal liability for the unit, after moving out. To sublet, requires the current tenant to become a landlord of sorts. Subletting a rental is usually unwise.
As of the result of a possible exchange of the rental lease , the landlord gets a new renter without any disruption in cash flow . The landlord’s key task is how to acquire good tenants .
Another positive for landlords, is that if your tenant is a responsible and high-quality tenant, then their friends may be as well. Of course, they must still be vetted and have their background checked to ensure all is well.
What is a House or Apartment Lease Transfer?
An apartment lease or house rental lease transfer is the process of one person assuming legal responsibility for someone else’s lease. From a landlord or property manager point of view, the lease is being transferred to another person. It changes legal liability and increases risk of revenue loss.
From a tenant’s point of view, it could be someone assuming what remains of the lease period or actually becoming a new tenant of that rental property owner. For tenants and landlords , there may be special provisions that make transfers a slightly different arrangement than normal. There are security deposits, fees, fines, and other matters to consider.
If you’re a tenant and hoping to take over another person’s rental lease (friend or stranger) you need to review the lease clauses to see if a transfer is possible and what costs you’ll be responsible for.
You’ll need to ask:
- if your rental lease permits transfer from one tenant to another (some have clauses preventing it)
- what costs/fees will the tenant experience when breaking the lease
- if there is a clause that requires 60 days notice
- your landlord about the possibility and get their views on what’s needed (they’ll want to help yet ensure they get a good new renter)
- what fees or other costs will you have to pay
- how to find another good quality tenant to assume your lease if you don’t have anyone in mind
- help your friend create and forward a positive, strong rental application
- ask for and prepare for a move out inspection
- complete a consent to assignment of lease form which documents and makes the lease transfer legal
- have all parties sign the assignment of lease (transfer) to the other renter
What You Need to Do
As a tenant, if you’re in a tight bind, you may have to quickly find a tenant on your own. You can ask around with all friends and family for potential renters, or put an ad in a quality vacancy listing site (see ManageCasa’s syndicated ad service for landlords as an example).
Advertising on craigslist or low-quality listing sites could bring trouble, and not generate the renters the landlord will want .
Do your initial preparation and research (review the clauses in the lease , and check out your state/city guidelines for rental transfers, and then talk with your landlord. Property managers know what’s going on with the economy and they likely won’t have trouble finding another renter.
Get your required documents signed (60 days notice, assignment of lease form) and ensure all responsibility for rent payment and property is transferred to the new tenant.
If you’re taking over someone else’s apartment lease, there may be risks. Ensure you do a thorough apartment inspection, speak to the landlord about back rent due. Run a background check on the person transferring the lease to you if you don’t know them. Rental scams are real.
Tips for Landlords
Landlords should have a lease transfer and subletting policy created and available to tenants via their tenant portal.
The ultimate technology in rental unit management is ready to use for a very affordable monthly subscription price. Enjoy improved services, profitability, reduced workloads, and more appreciation from tenants for making renting from you so easy.
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Additional information on tenant lease transfers:
Breaking Leases : https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/tenants-right-break-rental-lease-texas.html Ending Leases : https://guides.sll.texas.gov/landlord-tenant-law/ending-the-lease Assignment of Lease Document Agreement : https://www.lawdepot.com/contracts/lease-assignment/?loc=US Lease Transfer Clauses : https://www.lawinsider.com/clause/lease-transfer Notice to Tenant of Landlords Transfer to New Owner : https://content.next.westlaw.com/practical-law/document/Ia02a293a04dd11e798dc8b09b4f043e0/Notice-to-Tenant-of-Transfer-of-Lease-Residential-Real-Estate-Purchase-and-Sale-CA Consent to Assignment of Lease: https://view.officeapps.live.com/op/view.aspx?src=https%3A%2F%2Fsls.berkeley.edu%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2020%2F08%2FForm-Lease-Assignment-Single-Tenant.doc&wdOrigin=BROWSELINK
Transferring Apartments Same Company | Rental Leases | Landlord Tenant Law | Lease Renewals | How to Write a Rental Lease | Leases and Evictions | How to Keep Tenants | Lease Management Software | Rental Applications | Lease Renewals | Rental Documents | Apartment Building Rules | Property Management Software Review
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