What Is an Apartment Lease Buyout?

A buyout may help you get out of that apartment lease early.
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By now you've probably had your own apartment and you know what a lease is. You pay the rent, the landlord gives you the keys, and the lease lasts for a certain period of time--usually 12 months. But life changes due to things like a new job or marriage may mean you have to move out before the lease ends. An apartment lease buyout may be the answer.

Fine Print

As the name implies, a lease buyout does come down to an exchange of money. In most cases, it's the tenant asking the landlord what he needs to pay to get out of the lease early. Some leases do contain a buyout clause, which makes the whole process easier. If you've got no such clause, you're probably looking at a negotiation to settle the terms. It's rare for a landlord to initiate a buyout offer, but it does happen. For example, if your landlord wishes to move in a friend or relative, or would like to use the apartment for storage, he may offer a lease buyout to get you to move early.

Lease Buyout Clause

A buyout clause is a provision that specifically states what will happen if such a deal is done. The clause defines what you, or possibly the landlord, will have to cough up. While these clauses are not very common, you do need to read the fine print to know your obligations.

If the Buyout Doesn't Work

If you are unable to negotiate a buyout, you are on the hook for the rest of your rent payments through the end of your lease. It was a contract, you signed it, and if you just decide to evacuate without a buyout, you could seriously damage your credit. The landlord may even decide to sue you for the rest of the amount you owe.


If you can't pay the buyout, or can't make a buyout agreement work, it doesn't necessary mean you're up a creek. You can sublet the apartment, if the lease allows it, to another person. However, if that person leaves any damage behind, you're going to have to pay for it. If the landlord isn't living up to his end of the bargain, he may actually be in violation of your agreement. That could be your excuse to leave and make it stick legally.

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