At the time of signing the lease with your significant other, neither of you likely anticipated that the relationship (or living arrangements) would fall apart. However, ending a romantic relationship is challenging, and it becomes even more complex when cohabiting. Fortunately, we have prior experience with this scenario and can offer some useful advice to help you break up with someone you just signed a lease with.
How to break up with someone you just signed a lease with
It’s never an easy decision to break up with someone, let alone leaving in the same apartment. But even that is not impossible as you can break up with someone you just signed a lease with:
1. Check with your landlord
Consult with your landlord to explore the option of updating the lease. Breakups are a common occurrence, and your landlord may have encountered similar situations before. Negotiation may be necessary, so be prepared to make some concessions, such as paying rent in advance, agreeing to a rental increase, or extending the lease. Alternatively, you can opt to pay the penalty to terminate the lease early.
2. Decide who stays or leaves
First, “plan” the conversation; it is necessary. Choose a private and distraction-free location and schedule a suitable time. Create a safe space for open expression of feelings with your partner without interruptions or eavesdropping. Be ready to listen and show empathy towards your partner’s feelings, as they may be hurt or caught off guard by your decision.
Regardless of how the relationship ends, you want to resolve all outstanding issues. You need to address the living arrangements and determine the next steps for moving on.
Determine whether either of you wishes to remain in the current dwelling. If so, the other person should begin searching for an alternative accommodation as soon as possible.
In case the person staying behind requires a roommate to share rent expenses, both of you should collaborate to find a suitable match.
If neither of you intends to stay, explore the possibility of subletting the property. However, some properties prohibit subletting, while others may permit it. That’s up to the terms of your lease.
If both of you express interest in staying, the individual who resided there first should retain the apartment. During the discussion, maintain a respectful and constructive dialogue. It is already challenging to break up with someone you just signed a lease with, so arguing will only hinder the process of moving forward.
3. Decide a move-out date to prevent unnecessary delays in the process
If necessary, search for an affordable month-to-month apartment while one or both of you seek a more permanent residence and split the cost of the temporary accommodation.
Once you have figured out your plans, inform your landlord or property manager of the situation and initiate the process of organizing all the necessary paperwork and logistics.
4. Stay put for the short term
If your lease is nearing its end, and you have only a month or two left, it might be advisable to remain in your current dwelling for the short term. This way, you can avoid the consequences of breaking a lease with your ex, which could make it challenging to secure a new apartment.
Staying put will also provide both of you with adequate time to locate a new residence and move out without feeling rushed to accomplish everything immediately.
5. Explore the possibility of one of you staying with friends or family
If possible, one of you can temporarily stay with friends or family. Alternatively, consider rotating living arrangements, where one of you stays in the apartment while the other stays with others.
Adjust your schedules to minimize contact and allocate private time for each person within the shared living space.
Ensure that both of you have a designated private area. Also, avoid bringing a date back to the apartment to prevent confusion and hurt feelings.
Remain composed and avoid falling into familiar relationship patterns. Remember that you are now roommates, not romantic partners. Thus, you have to establish clear boundaries for interaction, household responsibilities, and shared space usage.
6. Make the financial decisions
Managing the financial implications of ending a cohabiting relationship can be a daunting task. While it may be tempting to assign greater responsibility to the higher earner or hold the individual responsible for the breakup accountable for all expenses, such approaches are not equitable.
Moving out does not absolve either of you of financial responsibility for the rent, regardless of where you reside. Even if you are experiencing financial difficulties, failing to make payments can have significant credit implications.
Ensure that all outstanding utility bills, cable bills, and internet bills are settled before relocating.
Decide who will assume responsibility for any outstanding loans or shared debts, and put it in writing to avoid potential misunderstandings.
7. Engage a mediator to manage any unresolved disputes
Approach your landlord to determine whether they can assist in mitigating the financial burden, such as refunding your deposit in exchange for locating new tenants or covering the costs of securing new tenants.
If both of you plan to terminate the lease prematurely and lose the security deposit, you may need to split the cost equally.
If both of you contributed equally to the deposit, there will be no issues. However, if one person paid the entire deposit, the other individual should compensate them for half of the deposit amount that is lost.
8. Agree on who gets what
It is even more challenging to divide possessions after a break up with someone you just signed a lease with than to resolve financial matters. This may be because most possessions cannot be split equally down the middle. Here are some guidelines for deciding who gets what:
- Gifts belong to the recipient, not the giver.
- The person who purchased an item can keep it if they desire.
- Avoid holding onto things out of spite or that you do not require.
- In case of a joint purchase, the individual who receives the item should contemplate reimbursing the other party.
Sometimes a change of environment is necessary to help you move on after you break up with someone you just signed a lease with. Despite your attachment to your current apartment, it may hold memories that hinder your ability to adjust to single life. The space you once shared with your ex might make it feel like they are still present. Thus, relocating to a new apartment provides a clean slate and allows you to find a space that is entirely your own, enabling you to start anew.