How to Handle a Breakup When You’re Both on the Lease

Girlfriend and boyfriend facing away from each other with backs against a tree, breaking upYou were certain it was true love, straight from a Taylor Swift song. You were right about one thing – it was a nightmare dressed like a daydream. When your romantic relationship unravels there’s a lot to handle, from dividing belongings to changing your Facebook relationship status. One thing that can be the most stress inducing is handling a breakup when you’re both on the lease. Follow these steps to keep your cool, talk to your landlord, and figure out how to handle the lease and your changing living situation.

Step 1: Take a deep breath.

People break leases all the time – it’s not as uncommon as you may think. Between breakups, abrupt job relocations, roommate quarrels, unexpected moves, and so on, it’s understandable. You may plan on living somewhere for a full 12 months but as we all know, plans can change in the blink of an eye. Life can turn on a dime!

Step 2: Begin figuring out the logistics.

If both of you want to leave the apartment and start fresh, check out your state’s lease termination laws. They can vary, but typically your landlord is responsible for finding a new tenant to rent your space. Therefore, you need to speak with your landlord ASAP. You will often lose the security deposit on the space and sometimes a month’s rent. If this is the case, you should keep the process civil with your ex and make sure you’re each paying 50/50.

Step 3: Look for a new roomie (if necessary).

If one person is staying and one person is leaving, you may need to find a new roommate to take over half of the rent. This should be a dual effort – the person who is leaving needs someone to take over their rent responsibilities, and the person staying most likely wants a friendly, easy-to-live-with roommate. Most importantly, neither the dumper nor the dumpee should be left with an overwhelming financial burden. You need to continue paying your half until a new plan is figured out.

Step 4: Choose a move out date.

Pick a date and stick to it. Break-ups can be messy, so it’s a good idea to make this concrete. If one person is moving out, this is also the date the new roommate can move in (if applicable). If you are both moving out, this is the date you should give your landlord. If possible, choose a date at the end of a rent payment cycle to simplify things.

Step 5: Find a new apartment.

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