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    fixer145's Avatar
    fixer145 Posts: 12, Reputation: 1
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    #1

    Jun 1, 2016, 10:12 AM
    Breaking Lease on Condo
    Hello,

    Currently my wife and I are living in a condo that we have signed a lease for a year and half. We have been in there for 6 months now. (still have a year left). We signed the lease agreement with the landlord with all intentions of not living there for the full lease agreement, he had mentioned that we would be able to break the lease at any time. (however no lease breaking conditions are stated in the lease).

    Fast forward to today, we are in the middle stages of escrow on buying a new house. We let the landlord know that we would be moving out with a 30 days notice. He is now saying that we are obligated by law for the remainder of the lease, even though there are no terms for breaking it in the contract. He said he would be willing to cancel the lease if he keeps all our deposit and security money and pay him an additional $1,500. (which I feel is a scam). Our realtor is doing what she can to help us start mitigating damages by trying to help him start looking for new tenants. It has been 4 days since and he has made no effort in searching for a replacement for us.

    As a side note, a month back we had issues with out A/C and he had insulted us and told us to open a door. I had to get angry with I'm until he wanted to fix it. I also got a text from him stating, 'If you want out of the lease we can cancel it.. no problem. Don't feel stuck. I want you happy'. Well we weren't happy so we went out to buy our own home. Also when we moved into the place it was a disaster. We spend well over 6 hours cleaning it before we could move and unpack. We also had a whole corner garage of large items of trash, he told us, 'call bulk pickup' and had us take care of it. (wasn't ours). We also repainted and fixed walls.

    He has now mentioned that if he doesn't get a new tenant to mitigate damages or we don't pay him the $1,500 that he will take us to court.

    Will he/can he do this?
    AK lawyer's Avatar
    AK lawyer Posts: 12,592, Reputation: 977
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    #2

    Jun 1, 2016, 12:12 PM
    Yes, he can do that.

    You should have got it in writing when he first told you that you could "break the lease", whatever that means. Normally, the phrase means to breach a lease contract, for which one can be sued. If you took that to mean that you could get out of the lease without penalty, he can probably say you misunderstood, and there would be no consideration for that agreement anyway (making it generally unenforceable).

    Similarly, you should get his new settlement terms in writing.

    How, by the way, do you know that he has been doing nothing to mitigate for the past 4 days?
    fixer145's Avatar
    fixer145 Posts: 12, Reputation: 1
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    #3

    Jun 1, 2016, 12:27 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by AK lawyer View Post
    Yes, he can do that.

    You should have got it in writing when he first told you that you could "break the lease", whatever that means. Normally, the phrase means to breach a lease contract, for which one can be sued. If you took that to mean that you could get out of the lease without penalty, he can probably say you misunderstood, and there would be no consideration for that agreement anyway (making it generally unenforceable).

    Similarly, you should get his new settlement terms in writing.

    How, by the way, do you know that he has been doing nothing to mitigate for the past 4 days?

    Thank you for your advice. So far he has not come by to put up a 'for rent' sign or has he posted the listing on Craigslist.

    I have offered to help him, and I do have my realtor who is going to help if he hasn't found a new tenant in a week. My only concern is that we won't find a new tenant by the 30th when our move out date is on.

    He does have our initial deposit which is 1 months rent, so does that mean we have paid him for through July to find a new tenant?

    I've been know to get rather emotional in stressful situations so my realtor has advised me not to contact him, and she will be contacting him on our behalf.
    smoothy's Avatar
    smoothy Posts: 25,495, Reputation: 2853
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    #4

    Jun 1, 2016, 02:21 PM
    The property owner doesn't have to accept help finding a new tenant or accept anyone you send them. The property has to be made ready for market before it's listed,and 4 days isn't enough. Since you broke a legal contract it's on you. They only have to make a good faith effort to market it. And it doesn't have to be to your standards, only to what's typical for the region. I'm surprised nobody warned you before you got far into this process.

    There are real estate markets where finding a new tenant will take some time, others it will be easy. You need to hope you are in one of the latter.

    Breaking legal contracts carries a penalty. You avoid them only through luck. Or preplanning, and getting conditions in writing.

    Good luck proving anything verbal when you sign something that says something else. This is why you always read everything, especially the fine print before you sign it. The time for negotiating is before its signed.

    One huge mistake is signing a long term lease knowing you intend to violate it. Or any other contract for that matter.
    Fr_Chuck's Avatar
    Fr_Chuck Posts: 81,304, Reputation: 7692
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    #5

    Jun 1, 2016, 10:34 PM
    As everyone is telling you, you are obligated to continue to pay the lease, until it is rented. Did not look your state up, some require him to try and find a renter, other states do not even require him to try to find renter.

    His offer is not really that bad.

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