Furnishing a house and relocation concept.

Make sure you're careful when having someone take over your lease. (Getty Images)

You didn’t expect it when you signed a yearlong lease several months ago, but it turns out that you need to move out of your apartment before those 12 months are up. One option is to find someone to take over your lease.

What Is a Lease Takeover?

A lease takeover, also known as a lease assignment, occurs when a new tenant takes over the remaining term of a departing tenant’s lease, with the approval of the landlord. Unlike a sublease, when the original tenant remains responsible for payment of rent and the condition of the apartment, a lease assignment removes the original renter from the contract entirely.

There are legal stipulations that allow you to break a lease without penalty, including a move for active duty military assignment and failure of the landlord to maintain a livable environment. If you're breaking the lease for any other reason, though, talk to your landlord about lease-break options that could help you avoid hefty fees. For example, you may be able to sublease the unit or leave the apartment and continue to pay rent until the landlord finds a new tenant.

But your best bet may be a lease takeover, if your landlord permits it and you can find a qualified tenant. And if you're a renter looking for a short-term option, taking over someone's lease can be an excellent way to take advantage of lower rental rates. We’ve broken down the do’s and don’ts of an apartment lease takeover for both the departing tenant and new tenant.

[Read: Considerations When Renting Out a Room]

Finding Someone to Take Over Your Lease

A lease takeover requires not just finding a qualified tenant, but also the approval and cooperation of your landlord. Even if all goes according to plan, you can expect to pay an additional month’s rent or a fee to cover the application process and paperwork for a new tenant.

Victor Mota, owner and property manager for Mota Properties in Anchorage, Alaska, says requests for lease takeovers are common, but not without penalty. “You’ve lost the security deposit and probably next month’s rent,” he says, adding that this is a typical case for a lease takeover at one of his properties.

Here are the do’s and don’ts of having someone take over your lease:

  • Do read your lease.
  • Do talk to your landlord.
  • Do offer incentives.
  • Don’t forget about cleaning.

Do Read Your Lease

Before you post an ad for a renter willing to take over your lease, check your lease contract to make sure it’s allowed. The lease agreement may state that a lease assignment is not allowed, or that a sublet or lease break is preferred.

Even if your contract rules out a lease takeover, explain the situation to your landlord once you have full understanding of what’s in your lease. “First, read your lease. But no matter what the lease says, always reach out to your landlord. … You both want to make sure you’re both on the same page,” says Phil Horigan, founder of Leasebreak.com, an online platform in New York City for short-term leases, sublets and takeovers. Your landlord may be sympathetic to your situation, or you may get a better understanding of how to break your lease.

Do Talk to Your Landlord

Approaching your landlord for a calm conversation about your options will help smooth out the process of a lease takeover. You often need the landlord’s cooperation for a credit check or to draw up paperwork, Horigan says.

Not all states have laws that directly address lease takeovers, in which case the parameters set in the contract apply. In other cases, however, the state might allow the landlord to set rules or penalties regarding lease takeovers.

Under Missouri law, for example, a landlord has the right to double the rent on the existing lease if the tenant has someone take over the property without prior permission from the landlord.

[Read: Landlord Raising the Rent? Here Are Your Options]

Do Offer Incentives

As is the case with a sublease, you may have better luck finding a new tenant if you sweeten the deal a bit: cover the security deposit, pay for the entire month even though you’re moving out mid-month, or cover the cost of the application and credit check that the landlord requires for a new tenant.

Point out any rent deals you may have received when you signed the lease. Make note of the $100 off per month for a 12-month lease you received, for example, that shows why this short-term lease may offer cheaper rent than a different apartment in the same complex.

Don’t Forget About Cleaning

While your landlord may agree to let a new tenant take over your lease, the deal may not include professional cleaning and painting before he or she moves in. Thoroughly clean your rental before you leave – that includes the walls, carpet, oven, stovetop, freezer, cabinets and bathroom.

How to Take Over Someone’s Lease

You may only need to rent a place for a few months, or maybe you’re hoping to find cheaper rent and avoid a yearlong lease – either way, a lease assignment could be a good option for you.

Here are the do’s and don’ts of taking over an apartment lease:

  • Do prepare for a credit check.
  • Do inquire about conditions.
  • Don’t go behind the landlord’s back.

Do Prepare for a Credit Check

Just because you found the apartment or rental home through an individual doesn’t mean you get to skip the standard process of approval by the landlord. “Be prepared to have a credit check run (and fill out) an application,” Horigan says.

To officially take over someone’s lease, most landlords require the same application process, as well as a background and credit check, that is conducted for every potential tenant. The bottom line: If you wouldn’t qualify for a lease at the property under normal circumstances, don’t expect to qualify for a lease takeover.

Do Inquire About Conditions

To agree to a lease assignment, a landlord may require an additional fee or may not be willing to have the apartment professionally cleaned and painted between tenants. However, the departing tenant may offer to cover professional cleaning or clean it himself. In any case, find out what condition you can expect the apartment to be in ahead of time. Ask the departing renter and check with the landlord as well to make sure you're on the same page.

“The more information you can get from the landlord for the lease, the better,” Horigan says.

[Read: 12 Ways to Decorate Your Apartment on a Budget]

Don’t Go Behind the Landlord’s Back

It may seem redundant to inquire with the landlord when the departing renter has already told you a lease takeover will be fine. But as the future tenant on the apartment, you want to make sure you have approval from the landlord. Have any approval documented to avoid potential issues down the line.

At the end of the original lease term, you'll typically have the opportunity to renew a lease if you'd like to stay for a longer term. Because it's a renewal, you won't have to pay another rental application fee or amenities fees. But if you prefer the short-term rental option, you have an easy out by letting the landlord know you'll leave at the end of the lease.

8 Apartment Amenities You Didn't Know You Needed

Renting is in, and so are amenities.

Backlit apartment building against dramatic sky

(Getty Images)

More people than ever are renting rather than owning, with more than 35 percent of Americans living in rented housing as of 2014, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council. To compete with the growing number of rental opportunities in the U.S., many apartment communities are upping the ante with luxurious amenities that make living easier, more convenient and more fun. While resort-style pools, movie theaters and recreational spaces are becoming the standard, many places are going above and beyond to appeal to residents looking to rent in the area. Here are eight apartment amenities you never knew you needed – until now.

Making fitness fun

Making fitness fun

A woman hangs upside down while rock climbing.

(Getty Images)

Full fitness facilities, complete with treadmills, weightlifting machines and free weights, are quickly becoming standard for many apartment communities. Even buildings without space to accommodate a small gym often offer discounted memberships to nearby gyms. But at The Lorenzo in Los Angeles, residents get to take advantage of more recreational fitness options, with a rock wall and indoor soccer field on the premises. As off-campus student housing for the University of Southern California, The Lorenzo's student residents don’t have to worry about reserving on-campus facilities for a pickup game or quick climb in their free time.

Water features for everyone

Water features for everyone

Man having fun on water slide.

(Getty Images)

Pools are quickly becoming a staple for even midsize apartment communities. And while some aim for terrific views and lap lanes, others are reaching beyond their own walls. The Villages of Parklands in the District of Columbia, owned by property management and development company WC Smith, includes a splash park that's open to community residents and the surrounding neighborhood. “It’s something that’s not just a high-end amenity for people with lots of disposable income,” says Anne Marie Bairstow, vice president of marketing at communications at WC Smith.

Tuneup space for two wheels

Tuneup space for two wheels

Woman biking to work.

(Getty Images)

Particularly in major cities where parking can be expensive, residents take to bicycles for their commute to and from work as well as pedal around the city for recreation and exercise. AVA Little Tokyo in Los Angeles, owned by AvalonBay Communities Inc., helps its biking residents stay on two wheels with bike storage and a repair station, which includes a lift to make it easy to work on your bike and any tools you might need to make improvements and repairs. Residents take full advantage of the facility, says Juan Rodriguez, sales and service supervisor at AVA Little Tokyo. “The storage itself is pretty much always full,” he says.

Pets as a priority

Pets as a priority

Emmy the bulldog in the gym at 2M.

(WC Smith)

Pet-friendly apartments are in high demand for renters who want to ensure comfort for the furriest members of their family, but at 2M apartments in the District of Columbia, also owned by WC Smith, pet residents get their own representation. Emmy, an English bulldog owned by the property manager, is the official “pet ambassador.” She regularly draws residents into the management office for a quick pet and playtime while also highlighting the building’s pet-positive attitude and private courtyard for dog walking. “Dogs just make friends, and so everybody that has a dog knows the other dog owners, and it really helps to build the community,” Bairstow says.

Living in a luxury hotel setting

Living in a luxury hotel setting

Room service for businesswoman working on laptop in hotel room

(Getty Images)

If you’re going to live in luxury, why not live like you’re in a high-end hotel? Residents at The Atlantic Midtown in Atlanta can opt to purchase concierge-arranged services, from housekeeping to dog walking to room service. While anyone can hire similar services themselves, the added hotel-like concierge service removes items from your to-do list and relieves the stress of finding the right vendor.

Swinging for the greens year-round

Swinging for the greens year-round

A senior man plays golf with friends on a golf course.

(Getty Images)

Luxury communities throughout the country have been tapping into their residents’ love of golf. While some add small putting courses and even a sand trap or two, others go a little further. At AMLI River North in Chicago, owned by AMLI Residential, golfers don’t have to put away the clubs once winter hits. The community has a golf simulator for golfers to practice their swing whether it’s snowing outside or it’s tough to get a tee time at nearby courses.

Facilities for your fruit of the vine

Facilities for your fruit of the vine

Red Wine Pour

(Getty Images)

Forget wine bottles lining your countertop or even a wine cooler in your kitchen. Lincoln Property Company's Highgrove apartments in Stamford, Connecticut, appeals to wine aficionados with a private space for each residence in a climate-controlled wine cellar. The community confirms most residents take advantage of the wine cellar, which offers space for roughly 30 to 40 bottles per household. Thanks to this free amenity included with renting in the community, wine lovers avoid having to go elsewhere to store their favorite wines that are best served with a little extra care.

An eye for art

An eye for art

A smiling couple admires art in a gallery.

(Getty Images)

As amenities like fresh coffee and business centers with free Wi-Fi draw residents into common areas, property managers and owners know they have to make the spaces as appealing and entertaining as possible – which is one reason curated art collections are popping up in luxury communities around the country. Communities like Jasper in San Francisco feature art throughout their lobbies, mail rooms and other common spaces. The art displayed in Jasper "tells a story of a contemporary San Francisco 21st century style with a nod to its film noir history," according to a statement from Jasper's art curator, Maria Di Grande. The collection includes commissioned collages as well as street photography.

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Tags: real estate, housing, renting, moving

Devon Thorsby is the Real Estate editor at U.S. News & World Report, where she writes consumer-focused articles about the homebuying and selling process, home improvement, tenant rights and the state of the housing market.

She has appeared in media interviews across the U.S. including National Public Radio, WTOP (Washington, D.C.) and KOH (Reno, Nevada) and various print publications, as well as having served on panels discussing real estate development, city planning policy and homebuilding.

Previously, she served as a researcher of commercial real estate transactions and information, and is currently a member of the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Thorsby studied Political Science at the University of Michigan, where she also served as a news reporter and editor for the student newspaper The Michigan Daily. Follow her on Twitter or write to her at dthorsby@usnews.com.

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