Break lease, apt rented but landlord still charges 2 months penal

babycutecuteNovember 11, 2005

Sorry for the cross post, I posted this on buying and selling forum because I really need some help.

Is it legal?

I moved out Sep 30, 2005 because I bought a house. The apartment was rented one month later. When I moved, I paid 2 months fee to break the lease because they told me the apartment is not likely to be re-rented in a couple of months.

Now I found out the apartment is re-rented, the landlord (apartment community) told me that the 2 months penalty is for lease breaking damage, so they are not charging me and the new tenant "rent" for the same unit for the same month.

Is what they are doing legal? I am hoping there maybe a realtor or lawyer that can help me here. The apartment is in Germantown, Maryland. Montgomery County.

Thanks!

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over_n_under

You really need to refer to the wording of the lease. What is the penalty for breaking the lease? Is there any provision to reduce the penalty in the event that the apartment gets rented before the lease was actually up?

"paid 2 months fee to break the lease because they told me the apartment is not likely to be re-rented in a couple of months." It may be stated in the lease that they charge two months for breaking a lease because it may be unlikely that they can rent again quickly (and that was the verbal explanation provided by the landlord). Just because they were able to rent again quickly does not necessarily mean that they have to refund you other month's rent. There will be times where they will collect two months rent to break a lease and then possibly not rent the apartment for 6 months. For them it probably all averages out.

Like I said, what does your lease agreement say?

    Bookmark   November 15, 2005 at 8:58AM
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kavolk

I run a program that helps people break their leases, albeit we operate in Arizona. Often we encounter these situations. The issue here is whether or not a there is a 'liquidated damage' clause in the lease that is assessed in lieu of actual potential damages that could be hard to calculate. It is contrary to public policy to assess both liquidated and actual damages. So if your old landlord is attempting to get you both ways, you can argue that the liquidated damage is void. Also, it should be understood that it is contrary to public policy for contracts to contain penalties. Thus, if the break lease fee was characterized as a penalty, you could argue it was void on that basis.

You may want to check out our website, www.arizonatenants.com, for other factors regarding breaking leases. For example, issues relating to security deposits often come into play. Because Arizona's state landlord-tenant act is based on the uniform landlord-tenant language adopted by many other states, a lot of the topics we cover may apply to people outside Arizona.

Here is a link that might be useful: Arizona Tenants Advocates

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 9:19AM
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kavolk

I am sorry. There was a previous message that was inadvertently sent without the corrections incorporated into this response. (GardenWeb failed to send the corrected version). Hopefully this additional information will prove more useful.

I run a program that helps people break their leases, albeit we operate in Arizona. Often we encounter these situations.

The issue here is whether or not a there is a 'liquidated damage' clause in the lease that is assessed in lieu of actual potential damages that could be hard to calculate. It is contrary to public policy to assess both liquidated and actual damages. So if your old landlord is attempting to get you both ways, you can argue that the liquidated damage is void.

Also, it should be understood that it is contrary to public policy for contracts to contain penalties. Thus, if the break lease fee was characterized as a penalty, you could argue it was void on that basis.

Finally, a liquidated damages must be a reasonable approximation of what the damage could be. If it is beyond what could be reasonably expected to suffer, then it could be construed as void as a penalty. I think two months is the outer limit of what is reasonable.

You may want to check out the tenant library area of our website, http://aztenants.org/library.htm for other factors that often arise whe people break their leases. For example, issues relating to security deposits often come into play. Because Arizona's state landlord-tenant act is based on the uniform landlord-tenant language adopted by many other states, a lot of the topics we cover may apply to people outside Arizona.

Here is a link that might be useful: Arizona Tenants Advocates

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 9:32AM
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talley_sue_nyc

FYI to all; this thread took off on another forum; the upshot was that the landlord was told by the local housing agency that he could charge a "readvertising fee," and he could charge for every month the apartment was unrented, but he could NOT charge the original poster for the month that overlapped with the new tenant.

Once the agency's rep told the landlord's rep about this, the landlord backed down, and the OP paid the "readvertising fee," and had already paid the "unrented apt." cost, and may even have received a refund, or something.

Anyway, here's the upshot:
I want to post an update.

I just had a conference call with Consumer Affairs and the landlord. She was saying lots of mean things and still insists I owed her those money until I mentioned double dipping.

Then Consumer Affairs told her that's not legal and she shut up. She then complained that I screwed them on purpose and that I am irresponsible. But she did agree to talk to her boss and gave me the refund.

I am glad that it worked out in the end. Thanks everyone!

Here is a link that might be useful: the longer thread w/ the full story, and the resolution

    Bookmark   March 2, 2006 at 1:40PM
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