Broken Lease - Subletter Problem

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My wife, then my fiancé, rented an apartment in a very large complex in Cincinnati Ohio while attending college from January to December 2000. The apartment was located over a bar in the complex and kept her awake for many nights, which they said wouldn't bother her when she signed the lease. This combined with her desire to move to Columbus with me and attend Ohio State University caused her to write the property manager a notice of early termination in August of 2000. The property manager told her if she did break the lease she would owe two months rent and lose her deposit. The property manager explained the other alternative was for her to find a sub-lessor. After about a two-month period she found a girl to sublet it for October through December. At that time the property manager did not indicate any procedure for her to follow to do that. My wife made a sublease agreement from a computer lawyer program; the sub-lessor looked it over and signed the agreement.

She talked to office to inform them of the sublease. They informed her that the property manager had already found someone to sublease the apartment. This was the first time my wife had heard about it, or that they were even looking for someone for the apartment. This obviously indicates that the property manager was fully aware of my wife's intentions. The manager's assistant said that she could either use the sub-lessor that they found or use the sub-lessor that my wife had found and they could find another apartment for the other person since the person they found had never actually seen this apartment. They also said that the only consequence with using the sub-lessor that they found was that my wife would not receive her security deposit and would have to break the agreement that she had already made with her sub-lessor. They explained that if her sub-lessor took over the rest of the lease, my wife would be responsible for any Month that was not paid and/or pay for any damage that might occur; however, if the sub-lessor paid for the remaining months and left the place clean, she would receive her security deposit. My wife told the manager's assistant that she did not want to break the agreement she had already made. No one from their office ever told her to have the sub-lessor to go to the office to fill out a sublease agreement with the them. She would have done that if I knew that was the procedure.

Since February of 2001, the owner of the properties has been attempting to get us to pay him $985 on top of the security deposit they never returned to my wife for two months rent they didn't get while the apartment was vacant after she left. They clearly new of my wife's intentions of not returning to the apartment and knew the sub-lessor was only there for the remainder of the lease. I told him we didn't have the money to pay him and believed he was in the wrong and had no intentions of paying him. But our fear of what resources he has and lack of knowledge the law left us to do nothing. I did offer to do some web design for him if he'd drop the matter. He agreed to that but would never put it in writing. Every three months or so he calls and asks us if we're ready to pay him. My guess is that he must know his case on us is shaky or he'd have already sent us to collections or to court. I'd like to know what my recourse is to get rid of this matter for good. What can we do? How much time does he have to come after us?
What is likely is that you had a right to reasonably sublease the apartment. The manager did not have a right to compel you to sublease the apartment to his sublessor. One might ask why he would do this for only two months and just release you from the lease. Perhaps the manager wanted to give someone a preferential rent by having them pay a low amount while you covered the difference. If this went to court you might well be able to recover your damages and security deposit. It is unfortunately too common practice for landlords to simply keep security deposits knowing that it will be difficult for the tenant to get it back and it will require going to court.
Dear LawProfessor

Thank you for your insight. We have no intention of pursuing the deposit, even though we'd like to, we know it would be a long and out of town battle. We're more worried about him filing a judgement for the balance he says we owe or sending it to collections. How long of a time span does he have to go in that direction, i.e. when can I tell him to take a flying leap and never darken my phone again?
You can tell him to take a flying leap any time. However, depending upon your jurisdiction the statute of limitations or the length of time that someone can bring a claim can be, e.g. up to 3 years from the date of the incident. For example, in NY a breach of contract claim is 3 years if memory serves correct. Calling his bluff might do the trick. If it doesn't, it seems like he'll take you to court if he wants to, although he may likely lose.
Property manager problem

Hello thelawprofessor,

I have a few questions regarding our property manager whom we hired to rent out and maintain our house in the State Of Florida . Our house is only about 3 years old . It was built in 2005 . We bought the house and then lived there for less than a year and we decided to rent it out to tenants through a property management company which we did . The tenants signed a one year lease . The property manager told us that she would take rides to the house to see if the tenants were taking care of the property while they were renting . It also states
in the contract that the property manager will take frequent rides to the house to check on it and see that the tenants are maintaining the house. Just recently the lease expired and the tenants moved out leaving the house a mess with moldy walls in the garage around the AC unit due to a drainage backup leak that they never reported and also very bad black mold located in the front entrance of the house and also large weeds growing near the front of the house near the window which they were responsible for . The tenants also made many holes in the walls and near the bottom of the wall in one of the bedrooms and the tenants tried repairing all the damages that were on the wall but did a sloppy job of it . They patched it up and did not sand it at all and put the texture back on the wall and also they used the wrong color paint . They broke a 9 inch piece of the counter top off and also leaving the stove very dirty inside and out and also the refridgerator was not cleaned . They had 2 dogs and the house has a very bad dog oder and also they broke the sliding door blinds and they had someone mowing the lawn and that person must have hit into the AC drainage pipe that is located outside near the AC unit and that is what caused the problem with the moldy walls in the garage because it backed up into the garage and made a big pool of water there dripping down the drywall around the AC unit . The 2 walls around the AC unit are almost completely covered with mold because the property manager never went to check on the house and the tenants never reported the water and leak in the garage . I dont think the tenants were allowed to repair any damage without letting us know . They went and made the walls a mess and now our property manager wants to just patch up everything the easy way . The house if only 3 years old and should be in the same condition as it was before we rented it out . What would be your advice on this situation ? I would kindly be greatful for any advice . I know that we want to get rid of the property manager but they say we will have to pay them $1000.00 to get out of the contract . Thank you kindly for any help you can give us .

Mary And Ronnie
Hey ,

This is Ronnie67 ... I was looking for some advice as you can see above in my situation that I wrote on this site but you seem to be too busy to answer me so forget it . I taken care of my situation through other ways and got it cleared up .

Mary And Ronnie
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