Can you break your lease during the coronavirus pandemic?

What to do if you're locked into a lease you can no longer afford

A pandemic will still leave you on the hook for paying rent.

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The new coronavirus has displaced many people from their homes in cities that have been hot spots for the virus, but that doesn’t mean renters locked into a lease can get out easy, real estate insiders say.

Renters may be unable to break their lease despite the coronavirus pandemic. 

“It's not typically easy to just break a lease. Landlords usually require tenants to pay penalties or find a replacement tenant,” Adam Mahfouda, founder and co-owner of Oxford Property Group in New York City, told FOX Business. “You can be responsible for paying the full rent for the lease term in addition to any late charges or damages associated with your lease.”

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But with millions of people unemployed as a result of COVID-19, many are facing the inability to afford their rent and could be in a bind. If that’s the case, Mahfouda says to consult with your landlord explaining your situation whether its furlough or job loss and that you can no longer afford to pay rent.

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“Express you are very willing to move out of the apartment, pay a small penalty, and give back the keys," Mahfouda said. "The last thing a landlord wants is a tenant in their apartment that is not paying rent and doesn't have the ability to pay rent either. Offering a penalty shows consideration and humility.”

Tenants unable to pay rent in the past would typically be evicted but with the CARES Act in place, landlords cannot kick a renter out of their home from the time spanning March 27 through July 25 of this year. However, that could change, Realator.com notes.

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