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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 30365
Experience:  Attorney
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I live in Michigan, Kalamazoo county. My lease ends September

Customer Question

I live in Michigan, Kalamazoo county. My lease ends September 30. My fiance & I have been house shopping & just had an offer accepted, so we will be moving in to our new home as soon as everything closes. When I signed my new lease, I was hesitant, because I knew we were going to be looking for a place. I was told (If I recall correctly) that I could break the lease with 60 day's notice & a fee equal to one month's rent (my rent is $690). I was looking at my lease and I see no such provision. What I do find is "You'll be liable to us for a reletting charge of $700.oo (not to exceed 100% of the highest monthly rent during the Lease Contract term) If you: (1) fail to give written move-out notice as required in paragraph 23; (2) move out without paying rent in full for the entire Lease Contract term or renewal period;" or other terms such as being evicted. "This reletting charge is not a cancellation fee and does not release you from your obligations under this Lease Contract.
The reletting charge is not a Lease Contract cancellation fee or buyout fee. It is a liquidated amount covering only part of our damages; that is, our time, effort, and expense in finding and processing a replacement. These damages are uncertain and difficult to ascertain--particularly those relating to inconvenience, paperwork, advertising, showing apartments, utilities for showing, checking prospects, office overhead, marketing costs, and locator-service fees. You agree that the reletting charge is a reasonable estimate of such damages and that the charge is due whether or not our reletting attempts succeed. If no amount is stipulated, you must pay our actual reletting costs so far as they can be determined. The reletting charge does not release you from continued liability for: future or past-due rent; charges for cleaning, repairing, repainting, or unreturned keys; or other sums due." There are exceptions written relating to being unable to live independently or military deployment. "Before moving out, you must give our representative advance written notice to vacate as provided below. Your written notice to vacate will not release you from liability for the full term of the Lease Contract. You will still be liable for the entire Lease Contract term if you move out early [exceptions referred to again]. YOUR WRITTEN NOTICE TO VACATE MUST COMPLY WITH EACH OF THE FOLLOWING:
We must receive advance written notice to vacate. Your written notice to vacate should comply with the terms provided in paragraph 3 of this Lease Contract [paragraph 3 requires 30 days notice]. Oral move-out notice will not be accepted and will not terminate your Lease Contract.
Your written notice to vacate must not terminate the Lease Contract sooner than the end of the Lease Contract term
YOUR NOTICE TO VACATE IS NOT ACCEPTABLE IF IT DOES NOT COMPLY WITH ALL OF THE ABOVE. You must obtain from our representative written acknowledgement that we received your written notice to vacate." There is a general instruction to leave the apartment clean, and to schedule a move out inspection. "You'll be liable for the following charges, if applicable: unpaid rent; rent due as the result of your premature termination; unpaid utilities; and the actual damages to the apartment that are the direct result of conduct not reasonably expected in the normal course of use.
We'll mail you your security deposit (less lawful deductions) and an itemized accounting of any deductions no later than 30 days after termination of occupancy." There was a provision elsewhere about a requirement to provide a forwarding address within 4 days of vacating the property.
So, my actual question is
Am I actually liable for rent until September 30 (3 x 690) in addition to the reletting charge? Also, is the reletting charge 690 or 700? I recognize that I will be liable for a minimum of 30 days after the date I deliver my notice of intent to vacate which will leave me needing to pay a prorated daily rent for the upcoming month (July).
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 2 years ago.

My name is ***** ***** I'd be happy to answer your questions today. Congratulations on having your offer accepted!

The terms of the lease override any conversations that you may have had before it was signed. So, if the lease says $700, that is unfortunately binding. That's allowed if it's a reasonable estimate of what it's likely to cost them to find a new tenant. You're also required to pay pro-rated rent up until a new tenant moves in - but they have to make reasonable efforts to find someone. They're not allowed to simply leave the place empty and charge you rent plus the cost of re-letting the apartment. So you'd only have to pay until the end of September if they can't find a new tenant.

One option that might help you avoid additional fees and costs is to find a subtenant on your own. In that scenario, it cost the landlord nothing to find someone new, and they have not lost any rent, so you can really minimize what you have to pay. If you're interested in that possibility, talk to the landlord.

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Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The Reletting charge states "$700 (not to exceed 100% of the highest monthly rent during the Lease Contract term)." My rent for the current lease is $690. 'This is why I asked if it is 690 or 700. I can also ask the property manager, I just wanted to know what I was actually bound to before I got convinced I was on the hook for $2770

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Was your rent ever $700? If so, that's the highest monthly rent. If it's always been $690 or less, then they're only entitled to the $690.

You're not automatically on the hook for $2,770. They're only allowed to ask for rent as it comes due, assuming they haven't found a new tenant yet.