How to Break Your Cell-Phone, Gym, Apartment, or Car Lease Contract

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All of them are actually leases, and you’ll endure more than your fair share of headaches by trying to break any such contract.

The Hartford Courant lists the basics for contract-breaking, and it’s not pretty. Mostly, the advice is to be careful before you sign any contract. But that doesn’t help you if you’ve already bypassed that stage and you’re eagerly looking for a way out right now.

For example, in terms of an apartment or home lease:

If you signed a fixed-term lease (for example, for one year), you’re obligated to pay rent for the whole term. Breaking a lease is a breach of contract. If you do so, be prepared to pay the balance.

It actually seems easier to walk away from your mortgage. There are exceptions that allow you to break your lease, such as if you’re called to military duty or if the dwelling becomes uninhabitable. But the best advice is that if you can no longer cover the costs of the lease, contact your landlord (or don’t) and try to sublet it. Your landlord should be happy so long as the money keeps coming in.

As for cell phones, breaking your contract early while avoiding the dreaded ETF (early termination fee) is tricky, and in some cases impossible. If it looks like you’re going to get hit with the fee, which now runs as high as $350, you can try to sell your cell-phone contract to someone else.

If you want to opt out of a cellphone contract and possibly avoid early-termination fees, list your cellphone contract at websites such as, which matches buyers to sellers.

The buyers, however, will know you’re desperate to unload the contract, so you shouldn’t expect to get full market value.

Check out some other ways to break a cell-phone contract early without paying a penalty.