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I Relocated and Was Laid Off After Two Weeks, What Are My Rights?

Ask Savvy: I Relocated and Was Laid Off After Two Weeks, What Are My Rights?

Dear Savvy,

I have a major dilemma that I'm hoping you can help me with. I moved to Seattle for a job that seemed great on paper but turned out to be a total nightmare. They actually let me go after 2 weeks, without any reason given other than "you weren't the right one" — this is after I just moved several states away from home, and before I was given a chance to perform my job! Because of the lovely legal agreement known as a contract, I now have to pay $3,700 to break my lease.

Sad, this has been an absolute nightmare and I want to know — what are my rights? I have only had the keys to the apartment for a week! If I absolutely have no rights and must pay that ridiculous fee to break my lease, can I write the $3,700 (plus the first month's rent and deposit) off as a relocation/job-search expense? Thanks so much for your help, I am truly devastated by this turn of events.

See my answer when you


What a terrible situation you're in — I'm so sorry that you're going through such a difficult and overwhelming time. Relocating from your home is an emotional move and when the one thing you're looking forward to turns sour, you begin questioning your decision. While it doesn't seem like anything positive could come from this situation, try not to resent your new city. Seattle has a lot to offer both culturally and job-wise, so why not give it a chance?

If you're totally against the idea of trying to make it work there, here's what I would suggest in terms of your apartment fiasco. You signed a lease and your rights are whatever is stated in those papers. Have you tried discussing your situation with your landlord? It's worth approaching her, but do so without any expectations or sense of entitlement to get out of your lease because you've been served a raw deal. She may be sympathetic, but she may simply tell you what you already know about the terms of your lease.

So, what should you do if she says sorry, but a deal is a deal? Request that you be allowed to find someone to take over your lease. The apartment where I currently reside became available for that very reason: the tenants wanted to move back to their hometown but were only six months into their year-long lease. The owner agreed to let them find new tenants that would take over their lease, they placed an ad on Craigslist, and the only involvement the owner had was running a credit check and reviewing our rental application.

While you're searching for new tenants, consider taking a temporary job to bring in some money in case it takes longer than you anticipate. Hopefully, your luck will change very soon!


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