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Dispute with Landlord Over Early Termination Option

Discussion in 'Rental Agreements & Subleases' started by ansel8123, Sep 19, 2019.

  1. ansel8123

    ansel8123 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    North Dakota
    I recently signed a one year lease (last week of August 2019) and moved in. The lease has an early termination option that I wish to exercise before the end of October 2019.

    The clause has a blackout period of November through February (four months of blackout) where I'm not allowed to exercise. It is still September so my understanding is that it is in my rights to exercise any date between now and October 31st. The clause also says they need 60 days notice with rent for those 60 days, plus a termination fee equal to two months rent (I'm OK with this).

    My landlord is balking and trying to push a different interpretation me, saying that I should have given them notice and the fee before September 1, 2019. Yet they also are saying that I won't be able exercise until March 1, 2020. That means that their interpretation is only allowing me a period of six months to exercise when clearly the lease says there only a four month blackout period with eight months to exercise.

    Below is the section in my lease (clause):

    With exception to November through February months, Resident may choose to exercise an early termination option. Resident may choose to pay a flat fee in advance to terminate the lease early, rather than remaining liable for rent due through the end of the lease term. To exercise this option, Resident must deliver to Manager: (1) A written 60 day notice stating that Resident has elected to exercise this option; (2) An early termination option fee in the amount equal to two months’ rent and reimbursement of all move-in concessions as provided in any concession agreement executed by the Parties; and (3) Rent and other amounts due through the accelerated termination date.

    When Landlord has received the written notice and payment, and has signed the notice, the Lease termination date will be amended. The new termination date will be the date specified in the notice which must be at least sixty days after the written election and payment are given to Landlord.

    Exercise of the early termination option will affect only Resident's rent obligations after the accelerated termination date; Resident must comply with all other Lease obligations.

    The notice will not accelerate the termination date if: (1) Resident is in default under the lease at the time that Resident gives notice of Resident's exercise of the option; (2) Resident provides the notice unaccompanied by the fee above; or (3) Resident does not properly exercise the early termination option by following the procedure specified above, but vacates the property before the termination date specified in the Lease.

    What guidance can you give me, and should I take this up with an attorney here in my local area?
  2. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    I would say the language can be interpreted either way, which means you can probably get away with your interpretation. Ultimately, if the landlord does not agree he will have to get you into court and convince a judge he is right.
    So long as you follow the agreement as you understand it the landlord will have the burden to prove you did not comply.

    Personally, I think it makes no sense to give specific blackout dates but also prevent you from exercising the optiin 60 days prior to those dates. As it is written it is not reasonable to expect you to know you could not give notice in September or October.

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