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sjanda, Arbitrator
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 13441
Experience:  Attorney
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We recently signed a lease but had to cancel within a week

Resolved Question:

We recently signed a lease but had to cancel within a week because it turned out that we will be moving out of town - no longer be able to stay in the same city. We notified the owner within a week from the time we signed the lease b/c we knew he needed to give it to someone else or find a new tenant for it.

Does he have a right to our deposit?

We had not lived in the property nor had received any keys to the property. Our official lease wasn't going to begin until a month later anyhow.

Thanks in advnace,
Submitted: 8 years ago via Nolo Press.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  sjanda replied 8 years ago.
If he can not release prior to the date your lease was to begin he may deduct for rent that you should have paid if you had moved in. But if he releases then he must return your entire deposit in full.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
We did not move in. We didn't even have any possession of the keys.

We signed the lease on 7/15, but notified the owner (on 7/17) that our plan has changed b/c we will not be staying the in the same city/town anymore (due to job change). Thus, we will not be renting the house.

The lease wasn't going to begin until 8/15/09 anyhow.

Does that help?
Expert:  sjanda replied 8 years ago.
Once you sign the lease even if it is early you are bound to the terms and must move in on the move in date for the term of the lease or you can be sued for the rent that you should have paid. Now if the landlord has a cancellation provision in the lease you can cancel under it and you can terminate early but if the landlord does not get it released you are still obligated. Some leases just provide that you pay a penalty called a reletting fee, usually 85% of one month's rent, and then they let you off without any further liablity.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Would this considered criminal penalty though?

So it sounds like we need to negotiate with the owner in order to get out of the lease?
The lease doesn't really state much about cancel clause except for 30day notice expectation when terminating.
Expert:  sjanda replied 8 years ago.
No it is not a criminal penalty. You do need to negotiate with the owner to end the lease. But he does have a duty to mitgate his damages by trying to get new renters asap.
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