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barristerinky
barristerinky, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 36226
Experience:  Attorney over 16 years, landlord 26 years
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I moved into an apartment in 10/2016 and repairs we needed

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Hi. I moved into an apartment in 10/2016 and repairs we needed and not dealt with in a timely manner. Meanwhile I have tried to contact the office and management stating the issues and options to resolve them, but I have gotten no response to up until last week. Also because they have been difficult to contact my girlfriend attempted calling from her phone and they answered. Later that day I received a letter "to comply or vacate" the apartment on grounds that they stated my girlfriend lived with me and is not on the lease. She is not on the lease and never lived with me. This was when I sent them my 20 day notice to vacate based on feedback i received from a counseling service. There was a guarantee that came with with my move-in package that states I am able to move out if after 30 days I am not satisfied. Now that they received my letter I received a phone call from the leasing office telling me I have to pay $2000 to break my lease plus another $500 for not providing a notice to vacate. What do I do?

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney and will try my best to help with your situation. 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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What does your lease state about any early termination fee?

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What are the problems that they have failed to repair?

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Hi. It is important to note that I only got a copy of my lease last week, after asking for my copy for months. So I am now able to review it. Regarding the early termination fee, there is a buy-out fee of $2062 due 10 days after moving out. Also I just noticed they want 30 days notice and not 20 days notice that I stated in my letter to vacate. Also, I do not see anything about a $500 fee for for failure to provide to vacate.These are the repairs.
Electrical, because many outlets did not work through the apartment and we noted that when we tried to use the outlet initially there was a weird burning smell.
The stove had burners that did not work and it was unclear if that was related to the electrical problem above.
The kitchen sink aerator and garbage disposal were not cleaned or checked before move-in, because when we tried to run them initially there was a horrible smell that filled the entire apartment.
There was no running water in the bathroom (it's a 2 bath apartment), however both bathrooms are connected and there was concern over using the 2nd bathroom as it wasn't clear what the problem was in the other bath because they share plumbing lines.The apartment is in Everett, WA.

Ok, what is your goal here... to move out and minimize your costs, or to stay and fight the allegation that your girlfriend is living there?

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Did they make any repairs to the property after you gave them notice?

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And I think that I worked on a virtually identical question a few days or weeks ago because this sounds very familiar to me..

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I want to get out of the apartment and minimize my costs. The made the repairs to the apartment on the week of thanksgiving. Not exactly sure what date because I wasn't notified and I travelled out of town for the thanksgiving holiday. The repairs were made over 30 days later, but not before I got a call from a leasing manager.That may have been my girlfriend who contacted you. What a coincidence. She was just informing that she used this service.

Ok, to be honest with you, what you are describing as defects wouldn't make the property uninhabitable so as to give you grounds to terminate the lease. They are irritating and would justify some reduction in the rent if you sued them in court, but it wouldn't give you a reason to break the lease without repercussions.

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With that said, if you feel 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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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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The early termination fee would be if you wanted to buy your way out of the lease and make sure that you wouldn't be liable for anything more. So if the buy out fee is less than maybe 2 months rent, it might make more sense to just pay your way out of the lease. But if the buyout fee is 3 months or more of rent, then it makes more financial sense to simply break the lease, move out, and return the keys as the average property stays vacant for 2 months before they re-rent..

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As an aside, in addition to being an attorney, I have also been a landlord for over 26 years...

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Ok. This is a lot to consider. What about the satisfaction guarantee? I have attached a copy of it. What do you think about that? Also, the first leasing agent who was there when I moved in, mentioned that if I had to move, I can find a replacement tenant to take over my lease.

What about the satisfaction guarantee? I have attached a copy of it. What do you think about that?

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You are not within the first 30 days of your tenancy... so it doesn't count any more..

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And if they allow subleasing, that might be a better option than just outright breaking the lease.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
But I did contact them and they never responded during that time. I called numerous times and emailed management with my dissatisfaction but they never responded to the calls or email.

Right...but you didn't demand to exercise the 30 day cancellation guarantee within that 30 days... you would have had to follow through with terminating within the first 30 days to take advantage of that offer.. And it doesn't actually guarantee you can cancel...it just says "in some cases, you may be released from your lease obligation". that doesn't mean that you will be released, just that you might...in some cases...

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thanks

Barrister

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