Managing your lease
What to do if you have to leave your rental unit early because of the COVID-19 virus:
Ten Tips from IU Student Legal Services on managing your off-campus lease:
- Read your lease. Is there anything in it about early lease termination? Talk to your landlord if you aren’t sure.
- What does the lease say about subletting?
Can you find a subtenant to take over the lease in May, and pay rent yourself until then? Talk to your landlord.
- Will your landlord agree to a buyout of the lease, meaning will they agree to terminate the lease for some extra lump sum payment of rent?
Talk to your landlord.
- If you decide to move out early (before your lease term expires), notify your landlord in writing. This will keep the lines of communication open with the landlord, and potentially puts you in a stronger position legally. Email or certified mail are good ways to provide written notice that you have vacated the rental unit.
- The following steps may help minimize the amount you have to pay if you move out without making an agreement with the landlord to terminate the lease:
- Remove ALL of your belongings from the unit when you leave.
- Thoroughly clean the unit, even if it was dirty when you moved in.
- After you have removed your belongings and cleaned, take clear pictures and video of the unit and keep them someplace safe.
- Make sure any utilities in your name are transferred back to the landlord’s name.
- Notify the landlord in writing as described in item 4 above.
- Arrange to turn in your keys to the landlord.
- If your landlord agrees to a lease termination,
be sure to get it in writing.
- Unfortunately, even if you do all of the above, you may still have to pay rent for the rest of the lease term. But the above steps will minimize any additional damages the landlord may try to claim as a result of your early lease termination.
- Under Governor Holcomb’s Executive
Order 20-06, tenants cannot be evicted during the state of emergency in Indiana, but leases remain in effect, and rent will still be due. Unfortunately, the City of Bloomington and Indiana University have no authority to cancel a lease agreement between a tenant and a landlord.
- Landlords are not permitted to lock tenants out of a rental unit, or to have utilities shut off, even if rent and/or utilities haven’t been paid.
- If this information doesn’t answer all your questions you can schedule an appointment with Student Legal Services to discuss your situation in more detail.