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barristerinky
barristerinky, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 33713
Experience:  Attorney for over 15 years, landlord 26 years
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I need someone with Pennsylvania or Philadelphia tenancy

Customer Question

I need someone with Pennsylvania or Philadelphia tenancy expertise. I signed what I thought was a 12 month lease at my apartment. I had asked in email for a 12 month lease and have email correspondence showing the leasing agent asking whether I wanted a 12 or a 15 month lease and giving the pricing options for each lease term. When they sent the lease over for me to sign, I didn't read the lease term carefully, and unknowingly signed a 15 month lease for the 12 month price. A month ago I went to the leasing agent to let him know that we would not be renewing our August lease, he said to wait for a notice of renewal in the mail. The notice never came so I went back to ask and when he looked at my lease he informed me that my lease wasn't up until November because it was a 15 month lease. Now the building manager is saying that I have to give 60 days notice (as per my lease) and pay an additional months rent to get out of my lease. She will not backdate the notice to when I initially told the leasing agent I wouldn't be renewing, because it wasn't written notice. I have emails showing me asking for a 12 month lease and the leasing agent agreeing, I am paying the price laid out for a 12 month lease. The building manager admits that there was a mistake made but said I should have caught it when I read through the lease. What are my options?
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  barristerinky replied 4 months ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply, but rest assured, I am working on your question.

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I hate to say it, but this is a very straightforward issue here. Under the legal doctrine called the "four corners doctrine" the entire contractual agreement is contained within the "4 corners" of the written document. So if it states 15 months, and you signed it, then you are stuck here. The fact that you didn't read the lease wouldn't give you a legal grounds to get out of it because the law presumes that when someone signs a contract, they have read and agreed to all the terms contained within the document.

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However, if you have to break your lease, the landlord has a duty to mitigate his damages by attempting to re-rent the unit as soon as possible. Once he does so, he can only hold you liable for his actual damages in the form of any lost rent and advertising costs. So if it takes him 1 or 2 months to rent it again, he can only hold you liable for that lost rent plus any advertising costs.

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You don't have to give them the 60 days notice and pay the penalty amount under the lease, you can just break it and move out and then the landlord has the legal duty to mitigate his damages and try to find another tenant.

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So to minimize your potential liability, if you have to breach, make sure you leave the place as close to spotless as you can so the landlord can immediately put it on the market and hopefully rent it quickly.

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I am very sorry that I don’t have better news, but please understand that I do have an ethical and professional obligation to provide customers with legally correct answers based on my knowledge and experience, even when I know the answer doesn’t make the customer happy...

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thanks

Barrister

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