Dealing With the Apartment Post-Breakup


Breaking up is painful. It’s even more painful when the logistical hurdles extend beyond returning some stuff and re-activating your Tinder account. When you live together, dealing with the apartment can be one of the most complicated aspects of the breakup. If you’ve found yourself in this position, don’t panic. You certainly won’t go homeless, you won’t necessarily go broke, and contrary to what every fiber in your body may tell you, you might not even end up alone.


Check Your Lease

Assuming you both want out of the apartment, look at your lease and figure our how much time you have left in the contract as well as what subletting options you have. Some landlords are OK with you moving out before the end of your lease as long as you can find a reliable subletter. Subletting is often the preferred apartment exit route post-breakup.

In some cases, your landlord may prefer you simply break your lease (forgoing the temporary subletter route) if it gives them the opportunity to rent your place at a higher price or at a more competitive time of year.

If your lease is about to expire, can the two of you come up with a plan to split your remaining time in the apartment? That could involve one of you staying with a friend or family member nearby. Whatever you do, avoid having one of you camp out on the couch. You just broke up and if you are committed to ending things, you need your space.

Are you living with a couple? Get tips on how to avoid disaster

So. You’re Stuck in the Apartment. With Your Ex.

If you’ve considered all your options and the answer is that you’re stuck in the apartment with your ex until your lease ends, don’t stress. There are still steps you can take, it just may mean remaining cordial and staying logical. First, consider both of parties’ needs and finances.

  1. If one person can afford the apartment on his or her own, then the best option would be for that person to stay and for the other to find a new place to live. If you’re the one to move out, your fortune could be worse. Since there is so much turnover in the rental market, New York City is a great place to search and find sublets quickly.
  2. If you both want to take on the apartment and can each afford it on your own, then whoever was there first should get the apartment. If you found the place together, then whoever initiated the breakup should bite the bullet and move out.
  3. If it was mutual, then you should each come up with a list of items in the apartment that you want and divvy up accordingly. Will you be OK taking the couch and bed if your ex gets the apartment? Or will your ex settle for the TV and speakers if you get to keep the apartment? Just like relationships, breakups involve compromise too.

Things get more complicated if it’s a one-bedroom and neither of you can afford the place on your own. But when push comes to shove, your budget will dictate your course of action. The apartment’s layout makes it difficult for sharing unless you find a roomie who wants bunk beds and you can’t afford it. As hard to lose your SO and apartment you loved, in this situation, you got to move on.

Tie Up Loose Ends

Dealing with the cable company on top of dealing with angry texts from your ex is not what anyone wants, but taking care of the annoying details up front will set you free in the long run. Here’s a laundry list of some operational details to clear up before moving on.

  1. If you’re moving out, try and get your name off the lease so you are no longer legally bound to the place.
  2. Wrap up any utility and cable bills in your name that are tied to the address. Cancel auto-payments associated with the apartment.
  3. Settle any financial debt you may have with your ex.
  4. Divvy up shared belongings fairly. Easy rule: Whoever bought it keeps it. But, if you went in on a couch together and you really want to keep it, buy your ex out of their share. Just don’t fight for things out of spite. Remain cordial. It’ll make the experience less terrible for everyone.

Move on

And cue the Michael Kiwanuka again. There’s no getting around it. The faster you can navigate the situation so that you and your ex no longer need to share a living space, the faster you can get closure and move on. Make figuring out the apartment a priority. “Future you” will thank you!