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CalAttorney2, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 10244
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney with experience representing HOAs, homeowners, businesses and others in real estate matters.
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How do I deal with the situation whereby I need to break a

Customer Question

How do I deal with the situation whereby I need to break a lease that I'm on with my boyfriend? We are both on the lease until Nov. 30, 2016 but he wants to stay. I have to leave because of the relationship has broken. The landlord wants $6,813 for breaking the lease and my ex-boyfriend wants me to pay half of that ($3,406.50). But if he stays, technically the lease is not broken, right? What should I do, just pay my ex-boyfriend the $3,406.50 and get out? Please help...and Thank you.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Dear Customer,
Thank you for using our forum. My name is ***** ***** I hope to assist you today.

I am sorry to learn of this situation.

If you and your ex are going to be terminating the lease that the two of you entered into with the landlord, and the landlord is demanding a lease termination agreement, then the two of you need to agree on how that payment will be made.

If your ex is going to be taking possession of the unit, then he will be entering into a new lease. So his lease is not really a continuation of your lease, it should be considered a separate lease in and of itself.

It is important for you to get a release from the lease that you are currently on - you do not want to be contractually liable for anything that happens after you leave (if your ex doesn't pay rent, or if he damages the unit, the landlord can pursue you unless you have a lease termination agreement with the landlord).

The problem with the arrangement that I see is that the amount of money being asked for by the landlord seems to be excessive (I don't know how much rent you are paying, or what type of unit it is - a true luxury apartment or a high rent unit may warrant a higher termination fee), but the lease termination damages that the landlord is entitled to here are relatively minimal since the ex is going to be living there immediately after the termination of your lease.

  • In CA when a tenant terminates a lease early, the landlord is entitled to rent for (1) the remainder of the lease term; or (2) until a new tenant is found - whichever occurs first. (The landlord must use reasonable efforts to find a new tenant, including not raising rent, and not turning down reasonably qualified applicants).
  • In your case, a new tenant is already in place, the damages should be clearly mitigated. While the landlord may be able to argue some amount of damages to warrant a release of liability (so they could charge something), it seems that they are charging a lot of money for this release. If the two of you (you and your ex) are represented by an attorney in these negotiations with the landlord, you should be able to do better than that (again, there may be some issues of which I am not aware of that should be taken into consideration).
  • I would also be wary regarding the release of liability - you want a release from the landlord - not necessarily from the ex. So make certain that the landlord is giving you the release (I would be paying him the money if you can, but if the money were routed through one tenant (your ex) to keep the funds from one source, that is not uncommon, some landlords refuse to take multiple checks).

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