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Marsha411JD
Marsha411JD, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 20358
Experience:  Licensed Attorney with 29 yrs. experience with Real Estate
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When signing our lease we asked the landlord what it would

Customer Question

When signing our lease we asked the landlord what it would take to get out of the lease because we would be buying a house. They told us 2 months rent. We agreed that sounded fair. That was 6 months ago, now when we go to break the lease they are asking for what amounts to 5 months rent. The copy of the lease they gave us has none of the extra charges in it but the copy of the lease they have does. Is there anything we can do?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 1 year ago.

Hello,

Thank you for the information and your question, however, I will need some clarification of the facts from you. How long is your written lease for and how much time would you have left on it when you want to move? When you say the copy of the lease you have does not have the same language as the one the landlord has, can you tell me which one has your signature on it? If both, are you saying they added this handwritten language after you signed the document? Does the lease you have a copy of say what happens if you breach the lease?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for the reply. The written lease is from July 29 2015 to July 29 2016. The copy of the lease they gave us is missing the pages about breaking the lease. Both have our signatures one is a photo copy just not all the pages they have, they did not give us a full copy of the lease after we signed it. The copy I have does not say what happens.
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your reply. If you signed the lease that has the liquidated damages in it, despite you not getting a copy of it, then you would be bound by that language. Any oral agreement does not override the written contract when it comes to property issues. Of course there could be a legitimate issue of whether or not you were presented those pages at the initial signing of the lease (in other words given a chance to read them), especially if your initials are not on those pages. But, that would have to be hammered out in court.

Normally under Tennessee landlord tenant law, if the lease was silent on what happens with early termination, the landlord would have a duty to mitigate their damages. That means that they would have to take reasonable steps to rerent the property and once it is rerented, your duty to pay would end. The issue here remains that contract language. I can't tell you how this would play out in court should it come to that since I don't know what evidence there is that you saw, or were able to see, this part of the rental agreement when you signed it and whether a court would side with you all if you said it wasn't presented when you signed it, since there is apparently no signature or initials on those pages.

Your options are to try to negotiate a settlement that is a middle ground, which I believe paying a few months extra rent is reasonable, since the landlord would have to sue you and take their chance that the court would believe that you never saw that part of the contract, which in turn would mean they wouldn't get any extra money beyond the time it takes to rerent the unit. The other option is to refuse to pay and wait to be sued and see what the court decides.

You can see the landlord tenant act by going to the following link: https://www.oakridgetn.gov/images/uploads/Documents/Departments/CommDev/RentalRegistration/UniformResidentialLandlordandTenantAct7.12.12.pdf0.pdf

One thing extra here, is that unless they informed you of what account they were keeping your security deposit when you moved in, they cannot keep any of your security deposit, even if there is rent owed or damages. Please read the Act for that language.

Feel free to ask for clarification if needed. If none is needed, then if you could take a moment to leave a positive rating in the box above, I will receive credit for assisting you today. Thank you

Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 1 year ago.

Hello again,

I wanted to touch base with you and make sure that you did not have any follow up questions for me from the answer I provided to you on the 29th. For some reason, the Experts are not always getting replies or ratings (at the top of the question/answer page you are viewing or in the pop up box for this question), which is how we get credit (paid by the Site) for our work, that the customer thinks have gone through. In your case I received neither. If you are having technical difficulties with reading, replying or rating, please let me know so that I can inform the Site administrator. Please note that Site use works best while using a computer and using either Google Chrome or Firefox.

In any event, it was a pleasure assisting you and I would be glad to attempt to assist you further on this issue, or a new legal issue, if needed. You can bookmark my page at: http://www.justanswer.com/law/expert-marsha411jd/

Thank you.