Is it Better To Break A Lease Or Get Evicted?

Rental agreements are a tricky thing to wrap your head around when it’s time to go whether you want to break the lease or you’re getting evicted. Evictions stay on your public record and that can create problems, and breaking a lease can impact your credit score. Whether it be future trouble or damaging your credit score, let’s take a look at whether it’s better to break your lease or get evicted.

is it better to break a lease or get evicted

When stuck with a bad lease, many renters will do anything to get out of it. However, it is not always clear which is in their best interest: breaking the lease or getting evicted.

It is quite complicated, but in many ways getting evicted is better than breaking a lease. When you break a lease, you often have to pay the remainder of your lease. If you are evicted, however, you won’t have to take on the rest of the lease payments.

With that said, both breaking a lease and getting evicted effect your record in different ways. Breaking a lease has a negative impact on your credit score and getting evicted becomes a matter of public record.

Let’s get into why getting evicted can be better than breaking your lease and all that it entails.

How Does Breaking Your Lease Work?

Breaking your lease begins with a conversation between you and your landlord. When you break a lease, you are essentially putting your landlord in a bit of a predicament. They were counting on your rent payments for the remainder of that lease, and they may require that you pay it.

If you want to break your lease amicably and hopefully avoid repercussions, have an honest discussion. Explain what circumstances have led you to want or need to break your lease to your landlord.

Most of the time, you will be obligated to pay the rest of your lease. That is, unless your landlord is feeling gregarious or you have a good relationship with them.

The scenario in which you can break your lease and get out of paying the rest is called “constructive eviction”. This can occur when you are not able to use your apartment due to dangerous conditions or even renovations.

Constructive eviction is ultimately your best bet in breaking your lease. Otherwise, breaking your lease can be quite costly. For example, if you are breaking your lease with 4 months to go and your rent is $850, it would cost you $3,400.

You also lose your chance of getting your deposit back.

What Leads to an Eviction?

Generally, any significant or repeated violations of the lease agreement can lead to your landlord evicting you. Some common lease violations include:

  • Damaging property
  • Noise violations
  • Pets that are not allowed
  • Overdue rent
  • Criminal activity

In order to evict a renter, a landlord needs to provide the tenant with an eviction notice. An eviction is a legal matter, as landlords need to go through eviction court to serve you with an eviction order.

Residents that want to avoid the credit damage and costs of breaking a lease sometimes purposely get evicted. This can be done by withholding rent or violating the lease agreement.

Of course, trying to get evicted can backfire on you and lead to additional costs and penalties. Even having pets when you are not allowed to by the agreement can result in you possibly getting fined.

If your landlord will not let you out of your lease, you could technically withhold rent repeatedly until they decide to evict you. However, it could lead to a lawsuit without and eviction, and then you are out of luck entirely.

However, renters that have fallen on hard times often get evicted when they have overdue rent. It is unfortunate, but at the very least they don’t have to pay the remainder of the rental payments.

Eviction Rates Per State

Eviction rates per state are determined by the number of people evicted per capita. Below is a list of the top 10 states with the highest eviction rates.

The reason for these high numbers of evictions in the effected states have to due with their respective economic climates. Currently, the most recent state eviction rate figures available date back to 2016.

State Eviction Rate Evictions in 2016
1.      South Carolina 8.9% 41,099
2.      Virginia 5.1% 51,821
3.      Delaware 5.1% 5,468
4.      Georgia 4.7% 59,963
5.      North Carolina 4.6% 62,539
6.      Oklahoma 4.2% 21,814
7.      Indiana 4.1% 31,767
8.      Mississippi 4.0% 12,479
9.      Arizona 3.9% 8,339
10.   Maryland 3.6% 4,694

Each of the above states vary in size and population. What these states have in common, however, is that they have eviction rates much higher than the rest of the U.S. Unfortunately, many of the above states have had high eviction rates for many years.

How Does An Eviction Affect Your Record?

Evictions affect your record by being visible for seven years. That means that all future landlords have access to the record of your prior eviction.

Typically, landlords will be reluctant to begin a lease with a future tenant that has been evicted in the past. That does not mean that it will keep you from getting a lease in the future, it just may make it harder.

Unfortunately, evictions can also lower your credit score much like breaking a lease can.  Luckily, evictions can be expunged from your record before that seven year period is up.

How Can I Get My Eviction Expunged From My Record?

The only way to get your eviction expunged is by legally challenging it. Evictions and eviction expungements are a matter of civil law. As such, you need to be very diligent and careful with all documentation regarding the eviction.

You need to petition the court if you want your eviction removed from public record. Here are some actions that you need to take to have your eviction expunged:

1. Gather Any Evidence

What were the grounds of the eviction? If it was a matter of lease violations and you have evidence to support that you didn’t in fact violate the agreement, present it.

If you did violate the agreement but it was for good reason, put those reasons down on paper. For example, if it was a dangerous environment that caused you to withhold rent, provide evidence.

2. Provide Proof of Rental Payments

If you actually made the rental payments that the landlord claims you didn’t, provide proof. Gather bank statements or checking account transaction history if possible.

3. Appeal to the Judge

A judge’s ruling can be largely based on how your case appeals to them and whether or not it is a just cause. If your actions show that there was an honest mistake or misunderstanding, it will fare well for you.

In the event that you can prove that the eviction was wrongful, the judge will usually view the eviction as unjust. That can lead to the eviction being expunged from your record.

Our Final Rundown

Both breaking a lease and getting evicted affect your record. In many ways, getting evicted is preferable to breaking your lease.

That is because breaking your lease means that you will have to pay out the remainder of your lease. In many ways, breaking your lease is not worth it because you’ll have to pay the same as if you stayed.

Getting evicted can leave a black mark on your record as well. Luckily, in the case of evictions, you can get it expunged from your record. If you cannot get the eviction expunged, you will need to wait out the seven year period that it will remain visible.

An honest conversation with your landlord just might let you break your lease without paying the price. If you do get evicted, do all that you can to get it expunged so that you have no trouble getting a future lease.

Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

Recently Published