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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 33801
Experience:  15 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
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I own a rental property in San Diego, CA. I want to sell the

Customer Question

I own a rental property in San Diego, CA. I want to sell the property so I offered my tenants $2600 to surrender and vacate the premises by midnight on January 31st, which is prior to the end date in the original lease. This termination agreement is in writing, and I gave them $100 immediately to memorialize the agreement which was also signed by both parties. They decided to enter the property on February 1st to check for remaining personal property and to clean the place. I did not pay the remaining incentive since they did not fulfill their end of the agreement and they now are suing me in small claims for $2500 breach of contract plus $3200 of punitive damages. Was this a breach, or are there other factors to consider? How should I proceed?
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 9 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 think a judge would view this in one of two ways... Either as "substantial compliance" which would require you to pay them since they had essentially complied 99% or as a failure to comply with the specific terms of the agreement which would put them in breach of contract and allow you to avoid further performance under the contract.

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But my instinct is that judges don't like inequitable outcomes here and the judge would rule this is substantial compliance and order you to pay them the agreed on amount, possibly minus some small deduction for their delinquency.

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I don't see the judge awarding any punitive damages because you both have reasonable positions that you are taking in regard to the breach.

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As for the carpet and any unauthorized pets, that is a completely separate issue and is not related to this contractual dispute in any way. If they breached the lease contract by having pets, then your recourse is to countersue them here for breach of contract related to the lease or sue them in a separate small claims case for any depreciated damages for the pets, which would typically be 2.5 years depreciable life of the carpet since carpets will carry a 5 year depreciable lifespan from new.

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thanks

Barrister

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