A joint lease is a rental agreement which has two or more tenants. When problems arise, it's usually because one tenant wishes to move out of the rental while the other one doesn't. It can be tricky to get your name removed from a joint lease. Most times, it's something that you'll agree to do through negotiation with the landlord and your co-tenants.
You can't force a landlord to remove your name from the lease. Some landlords are willing to do so, however, so it doesn't hurt to ask.
Talk to Your Co-tenants
When you signed the lease, you took on certain legal responsibilities. This includes a responsibility to pay your share of the rent. When you take your name off the lease, the remaining tenants will have to pay the full rent. So, start by asking the other tenants if they are willing to accept this additional liability. Sometimes, the landlord will voluntarily allow a new lease to be created with your name absent, but this requires the written permission of your co-tenants.
Negotiate with the Landlord
As a matter of law, you cannot force the landlord to take your name off the lease until the lease ends. You can, however, negotiate removal of your name from the lease with your landlord. You may be able to pay a penalty in return for your name being removed, but this is entirely at the landlord's discretion. If you can negotiate a free that's less than the remaining balance on your lease, it is worth considering this option. Be sure to get an early-out payment in writing and make sure to get a receipt for the payment.
Find a Replacement
The landlord and other tenants may be more willing to negotiate if you can find a new roommate to replace you. This always requires the approval of your roommates and the landlord, and if they do not accept the change, there is little you can do. If you do find a replacement, be sure to have them sign an agreement that they will take responsibility for the lease terms from the date you move out. This prevents the former roommates from coming after you for any part of the rent that you agreed to pay when you signed the lease.
Get Legal Advice
Contact an attorney and discuss with him your legal options in removing your name from the lease. If you can prove illegal or dangerous behavior by one or more of your roommates, you may be able to get your name forcibly removed. In addition, if you can show that the apartment or house is inhabitable, and the landlord has ignored requests to fix the problem, you may also be allowed to terminate the lease early without penalty. This is commonly found with issues of unpaid utility bills that are the landlord's responsibility.