Lease Breakers...why and what happenened? Stories wanted!

bowdoin514June 2, 2007

I know you're out there! Here's my situation, and I would love to hear your stories. Been a tennant and a landlord, so I have been on both sides. Luckily, I will soon be a homeowner. But anyhow, here goes nothing. My husband & I rent a small, 2 bdrm., home in a very undesirable section of town. We moved here from out of state last October, and agreed to a 1-yr. lease. We were on a time-constraint, and didn't know the area real well, so we kind of jumped in blind, if you know what I mean. We are in the process of buying a similar home in another nearby area, have done our research this time, have met the neighbors, and know the area. We have complained to the landlord, he knows our situation, and has even suggested we move to another of his rentals, but his properties are all the same, run-down & not great areas, without losing our security. We will give him a 30-day notice, but cannot stand the area. It's so noisy with boom boxes going, the drugs are everywhere, trash & beer bottles broken in the driveway, window screens slashed, etc. The lease agreement isn't real clear about what happens if we break the lease. We have paid our rent for the month, and realize we'll lose our security, but for the peace of mind we'll have, it will be worth it.

Let me hear your stories, and any advice would be appreciated. We've been excellent tennants, on time, and have not made any damage to the place, if anything, have made improvements. Eager to hear from you.


Emma in SC

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What on earth do you mean that the "lease agreement is not clear" on what will happen if you break the lease?? And you say you have also been a landlord!?! Ha. It's a one year lease. You owe.

When your landlord takes you to court to recover his money, I don't think you have a leg to stand on. It is not your landlord's fault that you do not care for the neighborhood, and the judge will side with the landlord. The judge won't care that you have gone out and bought a house for yourself and left the landlord hanging with extra expenses.

It sounds like your landlord has tried to be accomodating to your whims offering to let you change locations. Hopefully he will get the place rented in a timely manner and you won't owe much.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 3:02AM
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What about either you or the LL finding a sublet candidate suitable to him?

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 4:54AM
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You owe rent till your lease (contract) is up. If you bail early, your landlord will no doubt immediately try to re-rent, but if it takes a month or two you will owe for the months the unit was vacant. (Landlords can't collect 'double' rents). Also don't view the security deposit as a security blanket. Expenses are incurred in so many ways and add up quickly and odds are very high the security deposit won't begin to compensate for it. The landlord can seek restitution for losses via petitioning the court. If it is deemed by a judge that you owe money to the landlord, and you fail to pay monies owed, a Judgment will show on your credit report. Separate from an Eviction, when it comes to securing housing a property Judgment is about the worst thing a landlord or mortgage lender wants to see on an applicant's credit report. It's the kiss of death. If you ever need to re-rent, refinance, secure a home equity loan or purchase a different home and secure a new loan, you will be faced with rejection by the mainstream landlords and lenders. You'll be forced to deal with substandard housing (where tenants aren't screened) or secure a bank loan through "high risk" lenders whereby you will pay exorbitant interest rates. Housing is not all that it impacts, though. If you attempt to secure a loan for a car, or obtain a major credit card, you'll find it haunts you in that scenario as well. You'll either be faced with rejection or accepted but labeled as 'high risk' and pay through the nose via interest rates. Regardless of 'mistakes' made, you are still party to a legally binding contract. Reconsider, seek alternatives, do what you can to make things right so you don't leave your landlord in a bind. If you bail and don't look back, it will have far reaching impact and could cost you dearly for years to come.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 9:33AM
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"The lease agreement isn't real clear about what happens if we break the lease."

It doesn't need to be, there is usually state law addressing this. A lease is a contract. You owe 100% of the money for the entire lease year...UNLESS. The "unless" is usually a state law that says the landlord has an obligation to attempt to re-rent the premises. You are responsible for the rent until he gets it re-rented. Laws vary, but you can also be charged fees such are re-keying, broker fees, etc.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 5:32PM
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We broke a lease early in our marriage due to the same things. Once our son was born we just couldn't stay. I had documented EVERYTHING and we were granted the permission to leave without paying one dime!

Have you done that???? If not, get busy today and get it done

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 10:22AM
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Laws vary by the state or country that you are in. There ARE legitimate reasons for a tenent to break a lease that will hold up in court, but "not liking the neighborhood" is not one of them anywhere I know of. If one was a homeowner, one could not just decide to stop paying the mortgage to the bank because you decided you didn't like the neighborhood after you moved in.

Some landlords are open to negotiation outside of the court system. That is their choice if they should wish to handle the matter that way. You were lucky to have a landlord whose heart ruled over common business sense. Or maybe he had someone in line who was waiting for an apartment in the building as soon as one came up. Or maybe he just wanted to get rid of you and get better people in. You say you wanted to move right after you son was born. Maybe the landlord did not like renting to people with noisy children. Maybe he had gotten noise complaints from all his other tenents and was delighted when you asked to move out? If a landlord negotiates with a tenent outside of the lease terms, there was probably some benefit for him to do so.

I am curious as to what specifically you had to document about the neighborhood, that swayed the landlord to accomodate your wishes? Bowdoin514 has already spoken to his landlord and was offereed to change locations, so I do not see them saying "OK. Just move out whenever you feel like it." just because he hears boomboxes playing in the neighborhood.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 12:38PM
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I had a job relocation and I was in the middle of my lease. I explained this to the manager and she was fine with it. I had to pay a penalty of one months rent and that was it. No negative feelings or threats of lawsuits. It was a legitimate reason and it was handled in a civil manner.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 4:11PM
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What does the landlord want to do? without doubt the LL can keep the security deposit because of the breach if its a year lease and the year is not up.
I am an attorney, the LL would have to sue to collect rent for the rest of the term and in most states has a duty to try to rent the place when you move. Otherwise they would be collecting rent from you and from a new tenant for the same premises. Nobody cares that its a lousy neighborhood--other people are living there, and you selected it. The LL has no ability to clean up the neighborhood. But you can see what the LL wants to do and work something out. It depends on the shape the place is in when you leave. If its lovely and ready to rent that puts the LL on your side.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2007 at 12:18AM
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Our situation was in an apt complex.

My son was only 4 weeks old so he was not a "noisy" child. My husband and I are the rare ones who know how to keep a child in line and in fact, we bought our first home as a result of this so our son could be himself and not bother other tenants. We are very responsible people, but have learned the majority of folks do not live like that. They act like everyone owe's their child something.

This is what we was a common hall with 4 front doors. On the weekends there was drug traffic, there were kids in the halls all day running, banging on our door over and over, stealing your welcome mats, your door arrangements, there was an incident where these 2 boys had made a massive amount of mud balls and they threw them all over the inside of the hallway.

This was a brand new complex and they never put the outlet covers on the outlets and the cable connections all pushed into the drywall making them impossible to access after a while.

I had 6 rolls of film, 5 pages of written dates, times and incidents. I presented it to the apt manager and informed them we would be leaving because they didn't offer the decent tenants a safe place to live, and they had broken their own lease by not keeping up all they had listed they would provide us.

One Saturday afternoon, I sat in my living room as these same kids went around jiggling the front door handles, we left the next weekend. We got our full deposit back along with an apology letter from the head of the management company AND a refund of our last month's rent we had paid before we left!

Sometimes just good ole proof that "they" have failed after you lived up to your end as a good tenant gets you miles.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2007 at 10:01AM
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In our very 1st apt as newlyweds (3rd floor walk-up) we had a 6 month lease. The apt was cute, affordable and we loved it, until the 1st floor tenant decided to set fire to his kitchen on 3 separate occasions. I re-read our lease: absolutely no children allowed. So I went to the landlords and told them "I'm expecting". They congragulated me, tore up the lease and gave us back the security and last months rent. You see I was expecting - expecting to move.
The next apt. 1 year lease - great old bldg right on small town Main St. That is until the bldg mgmt decided to rent to college students without checking in on them. The final straw - someone kicked a 2' hole thru my dining room wall during a free-for-all party. Pictures shown to mgmt released us from that one. Then we bought the house.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 10:54PM
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Yeah, those are all good stories but the OP is stating that they want to move because they do not care for the neighborhood. That is not something that is under the landlord's control. They are renting a HOUSE and their perceived problems would exist whether they were renting that house, or if they themselves owned it. Their only recourse, is through the police, in regards to noise and vandalism complaints. The landlord is not going to drive all they way over there to "handle it" for them. If they were living in an apartment and the complaints were regarding other tenants in the building, the story and the solution would be different. They admit they did not do any research before renting, and are now stuck, just as if they had purchased the house, and then decided that they did not like the neighborhood.

So, what everyone can learn from this example is to do your research before moving.

Both when I was a renter, and when I decided to purchase a home, I researched the neighborhood to the best of my ability. Before I would move, I would even drive by at night and sit in my car to observe the neighborhood at night - how many lights are on in the prospective apartment building at 1:00AM? How much foot traffic going by at night? Is the parking impacted? Are there nightclubs that open in the evening that are going to cause noise and mayhem (something that one would not notice if apartment hunting during the day)? Are the gas stations and independant food stores places where people are allowed to congregate and loiter? Doing this research made me cross a lot of places off my list when hunting.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 2:01PM
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I "stake" a place out like you do. I'll tell ya, it sure saves a person a ton of headaches, doesn't it?

You can learn so much by driving by after hours to see what really goes on and what the noise is really like.

Before we moved in here, we drove over here and even parked and walked the circle every night to see and hear what it was like. After about 3 weeks of doing it nightly we were pretty sure it seemed just dead quiet no matter what time of day.........

It is never a waste of time to really, really put into perspective the whole area you are moving to, not just the dwelling.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 10:24PM
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