Real Estate Law
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Can the landlord keep the security deposit and charge for remainder of the broken lease period? Is there a legal way to break a lease? When you are contemplating breaking a lease, it is important to know your rights and what you may be held liable for. To avoid legal issues, it is vital to have accurate information. Experts can give you the information you need. Read below where verified Experts have answered these questions and more.
Case Details: There are nine months left on lease. Landlord has put a “For Sale” sign in yard and is showing the property with no plans to re-let.
Yes, this is correct. Even though a tenant may not have the right to terminate a lease unless the landlord is in default in some aspect, once the tenant has notified the landlord of terminating the lease, the landlord has a legal affirmative duty to mitigate the damages, meaning there must be reasonable efforts made to re-let the property. Once the property is re-let, or if the landlord does not use reasonable efforts to re-let, the tenant is off the hook and under no further obligations.
If the landlord sues, or files an eviction, it will show up in civil records, but civil actions do not affect immigration status, and therefore will not negatively affect individual getting an F1 VISA.
If a lease is broken, the landlord has the legal duty to mitigate damages by trying to re-let the property. Once the property is re-let, the landlord can only hold the past tenant liable for any lost rent, advertising costs and damages to the property. The law seeks to put the non-breaching party in the same position he or she would have been in without the breach. If it takes the landlord several months to re-let the property, then the past tenant may be held liable for any lost rent over the security deposit amount. But if the properly is re-let in a month, the landlord may owe the past tenant a refund of any surplus of money.
In a situation like this, it is very unlikely that the tenant would be able to get out of paying the lease break fee. If the lease was being broke because of mold or something of that nature, had it tested, and it came back having levels unsuitable to inhabit, then it is possible, but terminating due to a new job would not be reason to avoid paying the lease break fee.
If an individual needs to move before the end of a lease, action should be taken to break the lease before vacating the premises. There are many ways to break a lease with little or no liability. Many tenants who try to terminate a lease on their own are tricked into signing “Lease Break” documents. These documents will rarely break any lease. In fact, they usually create more liability than the lease. If an individual needs to break a lease, legal advice should be sought before vacating and signing any documents.
In Pennsylvania, the statute states that if a person breaks a lease, he or she is responsible for the breached lease, meaning that the landlord can hold the individual responsible for any missed rent. The missed rent can come out of a deposit and if it is not enough, the landlord can sue in small claims for the remainder. This is the default rule. However, if there is a contract clause that states “this person will pay 'X' amount of dollars for a breached lease,” then that contract overrides and controls the matter in most cases.
If there is no loss to the landlord, and the new renter simply picks up where the last tenant left, the landlord cannot charge a lease break fee because the landlord suffered no loss.
If you need to break a lease, it is vital to know your legal rights and responsibilities. Consulting an attorney is not always affordable or convenient. Contacting an Expert is the next best thing to reassure you and give you accurate answers to all your questions. If you have questions that have not been addressed, verified Experts are available to assist you.
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