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Need to break my lease, any lawyers?

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  1. Jun 23, 2005 #1
    i am moving back to PA from NC. I just moved into a new apartment been here for maybe 3 or 4 weeks. i signed a 12 month lease for 5 grand, or 417 per month. I am moving, there is no debate here, and it absolutely must happen...but paying 5g's for an empty room for a year is unacceptable.

    I talked to the chick that runs this place, who seems aright, and she says i cant break the lease and the only thing to do is sub-lease or find someone to live here for the price. Either way she doesnt seem to care as long as she gets paid.

    Tomorrow im going to take my lease and read over it very slowly and carefully to see if i can find a way out.

    People have said screw it in the past and tried to leave....they got sued, so thats out. This one guy went to iraq and he was getting damned summons for civil court in NC cuz he was called to iraq and wasnt paying his lease, so they are nazis about it.

    im def going to plaster my campus with ads, but in the meantime if anyone can think of a way to get out of this i would be very very appreciative.
     
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  3. Jun 23, 2005 #2

    Danger

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    Have you considered arson?
     
  4. Jun 23, 2005 #3

    SOS2008

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    A friend was able to break her lease by going online and finding out if there were convicted rapists/child molesters in the area. Of course she found the proof (probably most neighborhoods have convicts of some type), of course my friend is a women with a small child. There are ways for tenants to fight landlords, for example services provided per lease, etc. Do the research and see what you can find. IMO, if you leave the place in good condition and forgo your deposit you should be able to move, but landlord rights have grown more than the rights of tenants.
     
  5. Jun 23, 2005 #4
    Try one of the free lawyer referral services. Most attorneys consider it good for business to give potential customers 5-10 minutes of free advice.

    Also, you can research the laws for free in law libraries, and there are also tenant's organizizations that might be able to give you some advice.

    Finally, nolo.com is for the legal do-it-yourselfer:
    http://www.nolo.com

    Generally when people are trying to get out of leases or dorm contracts (or mortgages or car loans) they advertise a cash incentive for anyone willing to take over the financial obligation; e.g., "$500 to anyone willing to sign for the rest of my lease." These types of advertisements can be seen all the time on college bulletin boards.
     
  6. Jun 24, 2005 #5

    Moonbear

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    Most of those places have been through this before and have leases written so there's no way out. However, if you opt to sublet, get that permission in writing. It's much better though if you can just get someone to take over your lease for you, that way they are directly responsible to the landlord rather than using you as the middle man. If they destroy the place, they are responsible to the landlord for the damages, not you (you could still sue them and get your money back if they didn't pay you, but that would be a big hassle).

    To give someone incentive to take over your lease, you might want to offer one month free or something like that (one month that you pay for them, which you can probably arrange by having the landlord use your security deposit toward their first month's rent).

    Good luck with your move.
     
  7. Jun 24, 2005 #6

    Pengwuino

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    I think a new law passed for soldiers very very recently where you cant be sued for something like that. You also cant lose your job.

    As for getting out of your lease.... ohhhhhhh man that is going to be incredibly difficult. When it comes down to it, unless the landlord is an idiot or is really really nice, you will not be able to get out of that contract. People just cant walk out of their leases and finding holes in leases is a tough job. At $5k a year, your lawyer is going to tell you to just pay it off. When you get a lease, you should have realized that your going to pay that $5k off come hell or high water. Thats the rule when it comes to leases. You pay what you sign up for without even the remote possibility of getting out of it. Should have rented...
     
  8. Jun 24, 2005 #7

    Moonbear

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    I don't agree there. The lease is a binding contract, that's the entire purpose of it. If the landlord wanted to give you the option to move out after a month, they'd have let you rent month-to-month rather than require a 12-month lease. This isn't even an issue of tenant's rights here. The landlord hasn't failed to uphold their end of the contract, he's not moving because there's something wrong with the apartment driving him out, he's moving because he found a job somewhere. He's the one breaking the contract and is going to have to pay the penalty for doing so unless the landlord feels like being generous and allows him to sublet or transfer the lease to someone else. Sometimes if there's a waiting list for tenants, they'll be willing to break the lease at the cost of forfeiting a month's rent (that gives them time to change over the apartment for the next tenant...in at least some states, by law, they have to paint between every tenant and clean any carpets, so they need time to arrange to do that, hence the month you're going to pay for the apartment being empty). But, if they have other vacant units, they're usually not as willing to be helpful. They'll rent those other units first, and that's perfectly within their rights to do that.
     
  9. Jun 24, 2005 #8

    Kerrie

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    sometimes you can break a lease by paying an extra month's rent to the landlord. i know that's what mine said...my lease is over thank goodness, now i am on month-to-month until i decide if i am going to move.
     
  10. Jun 24, 2005 #9
    On the other hand it almost is a tenant's rights issue considering it's almost impossible to find a decent place to live with month to month rent any more. At least around here, I can't be too sure about where he is.
     
  11. Jun 24, 2005 #10

    Pengwuino

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    That doesn't matter at all. Thats like saying its consumers rights to have cherry flavored cough drops immediately instead of the generic crap. The rights you have are what you agree to, not what you feel you deserve. If you buy a car and get a loan through the dealer, its not your right to just give the car back and stop paying unless stipulated in the loan agreement. It also shouldn't be your right because you didn't ask for it in your contract. Theres bound to be someone renting month to month but in the end, you do not have the right to demand land lords tailer their business to your liking. You can negotiate and hope... but your way out of line to demand it as some sort of right.
     
  12. Jun 24, 2005 #11

    Moonbear

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    I've managed to solve that problem by subletting. Instead of signing for a 12-month lease, you take over the last 4 months of someone else's lease as a sublet. When most places require 12-month leases, there are always others who are trying to get out of a lease. That's the risk of renting though. If you don't like the terms, don't sign. If you can't sign a lease for the term the apartment demands, look for other forms of housing; you can live in a hotel on a weekly or monthly basis, or rent a room in a house. Whether or not that fits your criteria of "decent," I don't know, but it is a roof over your head and a bed to sleep in. Of course there are things that happen where we sign a lease fully expecting to stay a year and then can't, and that's why landlords often have an option where you can find someone else to take over the lease. They don't have to give you that option, but many realize this is the way the world works.
     
  13. Jun 24, 2005 #12

    SOS2008

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    I can understand the "turn-over" costs, and down time to get the unit re-rented. And if the tenant enjoys a first month rent free, or some other discount for signing the lease, then yes I can see the landlord position on this (recouping the discount). There are people who take advantage of these things, and disappear the night before they are to be evicted. But the people who try to work things out are not these people.

    Where are people's rights with regard to where and how they live? Once I placed a deposit on an apartment, but hadn't signed the paper work yet. I went back the next day and took another look at the unit before going to the leasing office, and noticed roaches in the sink. I let them know I had changed my mind, and almost lost the deposit.

    Even in a mortgage situation, or a car loan, you can sell the property. Granted there could be loss incurred, but at least it is the consumer's choice--and this is secured debt obligation we are talking about here.

    Speaking of which, the first time I went to buy a home, my lender told me there was an unpaid debt in my credit report. An apartment complex supposedly sent a final invoice to me, but I never received any such bill. They then sent it to a collection agency, who never tried to contact me. After years of the bill not being paid, it had incurred late fees, etc. and had grown to be astronomical. I had to get it paid off. If I had to rent again, I would ask for a lease that allows me to break the lease if they are able to re-rent the unit quickly.

    Conversely, I am on the HOA board where I live, and the HOA has very little recourse to collect unpaid HOA fees--for services/amenities already received. BTW, my friend mentioned above wanted to move because the refrigerator stopped working and was in the third month of not having a working refrigerator. I just don't have much sympathy for some of these landlords, sorry.
     
  14. Jun 24, 2005 #13
    Depending on where you are there are various things you may have to do legally before rerenting an apartment. The most common one is recarpeting.
     
  15. Jun 24, 2005 #14
    Yes that sounds like the best way to do things but they don't always work out that way. Some people are just jerks and want to get as much out of you as they can. It just seems that there should be some sort of compromise, and a legal binding one that isn't just there if the landlord offers it.
     
  16. Jun 24, 2005 #15

    Moonbear

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    Your rights are that you negotiate this prior to signing a contract. Nobody is forcing you to live anywhere. Landlords need to secure their own income, and if they don't know who will be renting or when, how can they do business? What you also don't know is if they turned away someone else when you signed your lease. If you break it in a month and someone else had to be turned away who really was going to stay for the 12 months, where does that leave the landlord. There are actually far more tenant rights currently than there are landlord rights. Landlords are only protected by the lease. Tenants have rights that extend beyond just the lease agreement (if there is a problem with the lease, judgement errs in the tenant's favor).

    In that particular case, even if you had signed the lease and discovered the roaches afterward, if the landlord couldn't resolve the problem in a reasonable time, it would have been your right to break that lease. That's one of those tenant rights that even if the lease doesn't have a "no roaches" clause, you can break it.

    That's why buying is preferred if you can afford to do so. Though, if you get relocated and can't sell your house before you need to move and need to keep paying mortgage payments, it's not much more of a choice than having to move and continue paying rent.

    There are leases that have terms like that. Actually most I've signed have had that term, but the law puts the burden on the party who fails to meet their obligations in a contract, which means if you break the lease, they don't have to go out of their way to re-rent quickly, especially if they have other units that are also open. It's your job then to locate someone, which is what it sound like they are agreeing to do for oldunion.

    If the apartment was supposed to include a refrigerator (some states don't require landlords to provide a refrigerator, and sometimes you only get one because someone else left one behind, not because it's included as part of the rental) and it wasn't working for 3 months, and she was reasonable about letting repair people into the apartment to have the opportunity to fix it, then that is a reason to break a lease; in that case, the landlord didn't meet their obligations. She probably could have even taken the landlord to small claims court for a portion of the rent to be reimbursed for the 3 months she didn't have a working refrigerator yet was paying full rent.

    It's really all just a matter of which party fails to meet their obligations as agreed upon in the contract known as a lease.
     
  17. Jun 24, 2005 #16
    Well i didnt know, but my roomate just told me about a bunch of shady stuff that happened. Like this guy raped 3 girls in a row, people got shot alot, TONS of stolen cars. None of that directly pertains to me. There are also power lines, heavy duty ones, near where i sleep. I dont like this, but i doubt i could use this to get out.

    Some people expect to live to be 70, and they end up dying at 34; i was going to stay here for 12 months, now i MUST leave.

    Ill go sweet talk this chick some more tomorrow, but she gets paid for having the rooms fill up, which leaves me without any leverage. Im about to start an electrical fire in the damned kitchen.

    What about vandalism though? Our front door got egged, and some weird stuff thrown at another window....it was like butter and greese or something.

    Good suggestions though, i will look into my options.
     
  18. Jun 24, 2005 #17

    Moonbear

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    Common? That's one I've never heard before. Painting was required in all the states I lived, and cleaning carpets was required in one. Re-carpeting sounds really wasteful...think of all that carpet winding up in landfills!

    It's called binding arbitration, but it'll probably cost you more than the $5000 owed in rent to get the lawyer to handle it. Most contracts have a clause in them somewhere that allows for the need to break it and what the penalties are for breaking it and many will require that instead of going to court to resolve any problems, that the parties agree to the decision of binding arbitration if they can't come to an agreement in resolving a conflict or need to break the contract that isn't already covered. Contracts usually include this because arbitration is cheaper than lawsuits, but the downside is there's no opportunity to appeal the decision. So, in something like leasing an apartment, it's usually okay for both sides to agree to arbitration, so no need to avoid signing a lease with that term in it. If it's something much bigger and if something goes wrong, you want the right to sue the pants off the person you're signing a contract with, then don't sign with that type of clause in there.

    Just simply don't sign a contract if you don't agree to all the terms. If a landlord won't negotiate the lease and you don't like some of the terms in it, then walk away.
     
  19. Jun 24, 2005 #18

    Moonbear

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    Was the vandalism promptly cleaned? Did it happen more than once? Careful though. If you're going to try to get out of the lease because of something like vandalism, which could be reasonable (you'll need a lawyer's advice on that one), you'll hurt your chances of winning on those grounds if you keep talking to the person in the rental office about needing to break the lease for other reasons. If they already know why you need to break the lease and you start changing your story, they also might decide to not be sympathetic at all and get really hardnosed about it.

    Honestly, I think the sweet-talking might be the best bet. If you just stay honest and pleasant to the person in the office, while she might not let you out of your obligations, she might not be such a hardnose as she could be, might even recommend places that are good for advertising.

    In general, I've found that landlords of small buildings who just rent a few apartments are easier to negotiate with than the office staff in large complexes.
     
  20. Jun 24, 2005 #19

    BobG

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    I don't think that's typical for most places. In general, tenants have a lot more rights than the landlord. Tenants just don't know their rights.

    For example:

    Want to rent to an older couple less likely to have wild parties? Illegal - that's age discrimination.

    Want to ban pets from your apartment complex? Illegal - you can put it in the lease, you can even charge a pet deposit if the tenant agrees ahead of time, but if the tenant gets a pet after they move in, there's nothing the landlord can do about it (except charge for any damage the pet does).

    Want to ban smokers? Illegal - again, you can put it in the lease, but it's unenforceable.

    The example of the person deployed to Iraq is illegal, as well. They may be pushing a technicality in that he was temporarily deployed (for up to a year?). He didn't actually make a permanent change of station, but they're unlikely to win. In fact, the key is to dispute the charge, in which case the collection agency returns responsibility to the land lord. They can threaten, but the pressure is on them to initiate the action, something that's kind of expensive given the chances of winning. Military can go to the base or post legal office for free legal advice (they can't give legal representation if he is sued, though). He should check with them before paying.

    Unfortunatley for oldunion, enforcing the length of the lease is one of the few rights the landlord does legally have, up to a point. If he leaves without finding someone to sublet, the landlord still has to make a reasonable effort to rent the apartment out and they only charge him for the time the apartment's vacant. If they're really willing to push the envelope, they may make a concerted effort to make sure a vacant apartment being paid for is the last vacant apartment rented out - after all, if the tenant has moved, how would he know how hard the landlord tried to rent the apartment. They would have to be subtle about it, though, because if the tenant could show they intentionally delayed renting his apartment, they'd lose some of that rent money.
     
  21. Jun 24, 2005 #20

    Evo

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    Maybe things have changed, but when I was married to a guy in the Navy, he received b-rats for housing, no matter where you are deployed, you are payed by the government to cover your housing (based on a scale), and if you are deployed, you incur no additional housing fees and are expected to pay for what ever domestic off base housing you elect to contract for. Being in the military does not give you carte blanche to rent off base housing and then not pay for it.
     
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