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Leases are not legally enforceable

Contrary to popular belief leases are super easy to get out of, both for the tennant and landlord.

Avoid signing a lease if you can. Know if you do, though, that leases are very difficult, if not impossible, to enforce. The only money your landlord has easy access to is your damage deposit (or safety money, or whatever it is they call the sum you give them when you move in). Think about it: say your landlord says you owe him $1000 for breaking a lease. Most lawyers, even bad ones, charge $250 an hour or more. We’ve never heard of a legal settlement that was executed in 4 hours or less.

Law is inefficient

The inefficiency of law is on your side. Remember that when you're discussing right and wrong in a legal setting, money will always be involved. The romantic in us thinks it isn't, but that's just not how things work in a legal framework. Litigation is costly and there's not a lease in the world that's worth paying a lawyer over. In the unlikely event that your landlord is a lawyer, he'd have to be a pretty poor one to warrant chasing you into a small-claims court. And if he's not a good lawyer, the problem will likely resolve itself anyway.

If all else fails - Lie

If you're dealing with a real douchebag of a landlord. or a big corporation that has an in-house legal team, then simply lie. Here are some great excuses we've heard of and a few we've used ourselves:

  • I've been called to active military duty (if they need proof, say it's for a foreign country, like Israel)
  • I have health reasons, and this place isn't suitable for my medical needs
  • Complain that the place was so run down that no human could live there
  • Make up a story about constant securiy issues and high levels of crime and theft
  • Tell that you've been harrased by your landlord and feel threatened

Pro Tip for the future

One last note: if you think there’s even a small chance you’ll break a lease, don’t enroll in the automatic rent-payment program. It gives your landlord an easy pipeline to your money. Suck it up and slip a cheque under the landlord's door every month.