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Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 100046
Experience:  Qualified attorney in private practice including business, family, criminal, and real estate issues.
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I have lived in my apartment complex 2 years. I am

Customer Question

I have lived in my apartment complex for almost 2 years. I am relocating due to a job change, causing me to terminate my lease prematurely by 1 month, nine days. Apartment management originally asked me to pay a $1300 reletting fee as well as the remainder of the rent due through the lease. They have since waived the $1300 fee but have charged me $879 for carpet replacement and want this months rent. I have lived here for almost 2 years and never made a late payment and never missed a payment. I gave them the required two months notice when I found out I was relocating. All of these charges represent almost $3000 in additional money. The $879 for the carpet replacement is supposedly because there were carpet stains and and their expectation is that carpet will last three years. So they are charging me for the two years of use to replace the carpet. This seems rather exorbitant to me and I feel like I am being Gallo just now but I am moving out. They were in my apartment the day after I moved out on November 13 even though I had paid rent through the end of the month. In my Opinion that was my apartment and they should not of had access without my permission. I should add that I left the apartment in better condition than when I moved into it. am I required to pay this or can I fight this?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note:This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

I am sorry to hear about your situation. Can you please tell me:

1) Does your contract have a fine for breaking the contract early? If so, what is it?

2) Did you take photos of the carpet prior to leaving the property?

This is not an answer, but an information request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. Thank you in advance.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
1. I honestly don't know because when I access my account and to see the lease documents it says there are none.
Two. No I didn't do that because I didn't think there was a reason to never occurred to me.
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

Thank you. Please allow me a few moments to type out my answer...

Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

What you are describing as one sum actually falls under two. We have to divide the two and discuss each separately.

Damage to carpet

The landlord is allowed to keep any amount of the deposit reasonably necessary to get the property to its shape prior to the rental minus normal wear and tear under Tex. Prop. Code Sec. 92.101 et seq. What "wear and tear" means is subjective, as is what amount of amount the landlord withholds. It is presumed that the amount is valid, but if it is exaggerated, or not needed, the tenant can challenge this in small claims court (Justice of the Peace Court in Texas), and let the Judge decide. It often becomes the landlord's word over the ex-tenant's, and this is why it is a good idea to tape/photograph the apartment prior to leaving, so that one would have extra proof aside from the testimony. Since no visual record is available, the Court would have to go off whoever seems more believable.

The presumption is that the withholding is valid. It is up to the ex-tenant to file in court (or threaten to do so) to get the money back.

Breach of lease

Let me be honest with you - it sounds like someone in your situation did breach the lease without cause under Texas law. If so, then the landlord can (a) demand money per pre-agreed sum in the lease, and/or, (b) sue/demand money for the breach of the lease. Out of this, part (b) becomes subjective. It is presumed that the ex-tenant is liable for the full remaining time of the lease. However, the ex-tenant can sue in Court to minimize that amount on two principles:

1) If the landlord re-rented, then they can only collect for the time the property stood empty before the breached lease's end date. In other words, if the landlord already got paid the same amount by another tenant that moved in, they cannot "double-dip" to demand damages from the ex-tenant for that time;

and

2) The landlord is expected to mitigate damages. This means reasonably attempt to re-rent the property. If they do not, then the ex-tenant can seek to minimize (but not to completely void) the breach of the lease liability, at the discretion of the Judge.

Again, this involves going to JP Court. The ex-tenant can attack both the deposit and the breach of lease issues under one case.

Good luck.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Please use the SEND or REPLY button to keep chatting, or please RATE when finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating. Kindly rate my answer as one of TOP THREE FACES/STARS and then SUBMIT, as this is how experts get credit for our time. Rating my answer the bottom two faces/stars (or failing to submit the rating) does not give me credit and reflects poorly on me, even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith with a positive rating.

Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

Hello again. This is a courtesy check in to see if you needed anything else in regards ***** ***** question. I am simply touching base. Let me know. Thanks!