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I have six more months on my apartment lease. In order to terminate it I would need to pay off the remaining balance- something like $9,000!

I'm starting to look for a job. Would it be typical (or at least not unusual) for an employer to pay that $9,000 if I relocate to work for them? Or should I just say that I'm unable to relocate?

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Check your lease to be sure, but sometimes they have a clause that says you can break the lease without a problem if you have to move for work. I know that is common around here, but this is a military area and of course the military memebers have no choice about transferring to a new location. –  HLGEM Jun 9 at 19:10
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Often, the term is relocation assistance. And at least in the jobs I've run into, it's almost always used in the phrase "No relocation assistance provided." It does happen for certain jobs, as per Garrison Neely's answer, but I've never seen one. –  Bobson Jun 9 at 19:19
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One thought - is $9000 more than you'd pay for 6 months of rent? If so, it might be worth it to just leave the apartment empty and pay rent instead; if not, it's possible you could find a subtenant to finish up your lease. –  Adam V Jun 9 at 20:06
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Depending on where you live might make a difference too. In Illinois if you are moving more than 100 miles then you can break the lease with standard notice with no penalties or extra costs. –  ReallyTiredOfThisGame Jun 9 at 20:20

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

During the end of last dotbomb (mid 2000s) I was offered a nice relocation package by a company that made video gaming machines (gambling oriented) to relocate. This package included moving costs, some cash for new apartment costs, and costs for lease breakage. However, the remaining length of my lease was only 2 or 3 months I don't recall exactly, but it wasn't 6 months.

After taking the offer and moving to South Florida, the company restructured itself after only 2 months. They were cutting people from the division that I had just joined, and moving everyone to Rhode Island. This was a red flag for me.

I had been in the middle of my BS degree in Math, so I asked (nicely but firmly) that they also foot the bills for me to quit and move back so that I could continue with my BS in Math, and they agreed to do so.

This was back when software engineers were in very high demand, so you may be able to pull it off if you are in high demand in your field, and there are no local candidates similar to you (Thanks Joe Strazzere).

The answer is yes, some companies are definitely willing to pay moving costs, including lease breakage costs, but

  • Depending on your field, your demand, and your skill set; YMMV.
  • You will probably have to ask for it.
  • Companies are more willing to pay for things like lease breakage if your salary is not above market (my salary for the above offer was at/to slightly below market).

Another option is to negotiate breaking the lease. Some states (in the USA) have laws that govern lease breakage under a changing job context. You can also tell the landlord that you are willing to negotiate something amicable to both parties. Finding a new tenant and suing you to get a judgement on the lease breakage is expensive, and may leave the landlord with lost income overall.

If you are up front and negotiate in good faith with the landlord, you can attempt to find another tenant, or negotiate some kind of agreeable payment (like 2 months instead of 6 months). Many landlords are willing to do this. Google landlord’s duty to mitigate damages and lease job relocation.

If you do negotiate something with the landlord, please make sure that everything you agree to is in writing.

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It is not atypical, but in my experience, relocation packages (which include payments to break a lease) are offered to experienced high-demand professionals, and higher-level management employees.

In particular, I know of a high-level manager who was asked to move during the bottom of the housing crisis, and the company wrote him a check for the difference between what he paid for his house and what it sold for (think over $100k).

$9000 is a drop in the bucket compared, but even then, most companies aren't willing to pay that when they have other options which don't include paying for an employee to break his/her lease.

Can you wait 6 months at your current job until you think about moving? You'll be much more likely to receive offers when they aren't contingent on paying you to break a lease.

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A few different options:

Check out sub-lease options

Totally a matter of locale conventions, but I find it unusual that you would be stuck paying the bill for breaking a lease - in cases where you are locked in, you usually have the option of subleasing.

Relocation Packages

It's always fair to ask. It's also fair to tell recruiters that you won't consider moving without one. In many cases, however, the relocation packages are a standard offering - $10K for example, was a going rate a while back in my career and area (Boston, MA, Engineering). The deal was "It's your money - if it costs you $200 to move, keep the other $9,800" - the idea was to make this a flat fee to avoid paying all kids of nickel and dime incidentals. If you are in an industry that has standardized this way, asking a few employers may give you the going rate.

All things are negotiable

And relocation is actually an easy one - it's one time, cold hard cash. They may require documentation, which should be available in the form of your lease contract which should outline your terms and conditions.

You may, in turn, be asked to sign a commitment to work for the company for a year or more, so they are not at risk of loosing the outlay of money. If you decide to leave before then, you may have to return some of the money.

The total tradeoff is whether they can find anyone as useful as you in the local market. This is totally a case of your skills vs. the market conditions in your target destination.

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The short answer is: YES BUT. In this case it should be the included given that it sounds as a rental agreement which would impose a significant enough burden to justify reconsidering relocation. Basically it looks like a deal-breaker.

HOWEVER the golden rule is that everything is negotiable.

Bring it in the conversation and ask if the company can cover it or at least provide assistance.

You might also want to look into internal policies regarding relocation which may cover this kind of situation and "offer guidance".

One more thing, regarding your leasing agreement. In my experience every time you mention that you leave the country the standard restrictions are lifted regardless of what the contract mention providing you give enough notice. It a conversation worth having with your landlords.

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