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CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 10244
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney with experience representing both landlords and tenants in residential and commercial property disputes.
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New Jersey rental Info 1) The tenant moved out a few days

Customer Question

New Jersey rental Info 1) The tenant moved out a few days after the 1 year rental lease started. In the middle of his move in, he repacked and emptied the apartment. Returned the keys to my neighbor a week after, have not given me any written notice, except
the text that he wants his 1st month, last month and security deposit (1.5 month) back (that he paid before the 1st of the month). Info 2) In the 1 year lease between tenant and I states: "The Tenant shall pay all expenses incurred by the Landlord in preparing
the Apartment for re-renting including, but not limited to: ***** ***** advertising, replacing locks, and commissions paid to a Broker for finding a new tenant. If the Landlord re-rents the Apartment for less than the Tenant’s rent, the Tenant must
pay the difference until the end of the lease term. " The low rental season has started, so I will not be able to rent the apartment the same amount I did to this guy. The only way I can rent the apartment the same price as before is to give the reminder of
this month and next month free and charge the new coming tenant the reminder of the months. As the former tenant has paid 2 months (1st and last) and it cost me 1 month rent to pay someone to find tenant, that I only return 0.5 month to the former tenant.
Am I allowed to do that in this scenario? What do I need to do to make sure he cannot take me to court on this?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Phillips Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Based on the information that you have provided here, you can make deductions for the cost of a replacement Tenant. However, that does not mean that the Tenant cannot dispute the retention of the deposits and take you to Court. So, there is no guarantee that the Tenant cannot sue you. You just need to make sure that you have followed proper procedures and giving the Tenant notice as required by law before retaining the advance rents and Security Deposit. For more information, click on the link below:

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your response. I understood your point on not making any guarantee (This question is to know if have followed proper procedures). I read the site you sent, but I didn't find the specifics to my question."As the former tenant has paid 2 months (1st and last) and it cost me 1 month rent to pay someone to find tenant, that I only return 0.5 month to the former tenant." Is this a correct procedure to do? This question is very important to me, because although the new tenant has moved in, I am not making any rent money.What should I do if in 30 days after the tenant left, I cannot find a new tenant. Do I need to write to him that I will hold on to the security deposit until I find a tenant? If I still cannot find one, and after exhausting the security deposit, then my former tenant will actually owe me, am I right?
Expert:  Phillips Esq. replied 1 year ago.

I am signing off at this time. So, I will opt out and give another Attorney the opportunity to further assist you.

Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.
  • The lease is not terminated until either a) the end of the lease period (12 months), or b) a new tenant signs a lease agreement.
  • The tenant remains responsible for the rent, as well as the cost of finding a new tenant.
  • The landlord has a duty to make reasonable efforts to find a new tenant (but as noted, the tenant is responsible for these costs).
  • See: "If a tenant moves out before the lease ends, the landlord must try to re-rent the apartment. This means that in order to recover rent for the months left on the lease, the landlord must prove that he or she tried to find another tenant but could not. The landlord must show, for example, that he or she immediately began advertising the apartment and interviewing tenants. Cite: Sommer v. Kridel, 74 N.J. 446 (1977)."

Based on what you have posted (and the above) it appears that the tenant is simply demanding their money back too early (they are trying to get their deposit back based on their move out date, not the lease termination date. Despite the fact that the tenant is no longer living at the unit, they are still responsible for the rent on the unit, still responsible for finding a new tenant, and until the landlord is able to get a new tenant into the unit (again, using reasonable efforts), the tenant is responsible for these payments.

The tenant does not get their deposit back until after the lease termination.

I hope this helps.

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