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Does Your Landlord Have the Right to Charge You a Fee if You Break Your Lease Early

Discussion in 'Rental Agreements & Subleases' started by SteveDay, Jan 26, 2021.

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  1. SteveDay

    SteveDay Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    Connecticut
    Let's say my lease is up end of June, and in the prior Nov, I call to say I want to break the lease, and move out end of Jan. They say fine, but there is a 2-month fee. So, I pay Dec, then I pay Jan, then I move out. On top of that, I pay that two month fee, which seems fair to me, as I am now not paying April, May, June. Let's say they have a new tenant that occupies March 1. Should that two month fee be cut in half for me? Not sure why I would pay two months, if the unit is unoccupied for only one. Thoughts? Thanks!
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Everything that seems to baffle, befuddle, bemuse, or bewilder you can be resolved IF you read your lease.

    What, you aren't living there under a written lease?

    No worries, every state in the union has resolved your worries.

    In CT, if you have no written lease from your landlord, the state has created a statute to make sure neither of you are harmed.

    Your state has a website that explains it all in writing:

    Connecticut Law About Landlord/Tenant Law

    Rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants in CT:

    https://www.jud.ct.gov/Publications/hm031.pdf

    A good Samaritan even offers content on your state's landlord-tenant laws:

    CT Connecticut Landlord Tenant Law and Statutes in Plain English
     
  3. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    No. You say you have a lease. If the lease says 2 month lease break fee and you move out and pay it, you're done. Doesn't matter when the LL rents the place. You've complied with the contract.

    If you wanted the lease break fee pro-rated you could have insisted it be in the lease before you took the place.
     
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  4. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    If the fee was not in the lease you should not have paid it. If it was not in the lease and the landlord continued to demand it, having rented the aparrment would likely result in only getting half of what was asked.

    If there is no such fee in your lease you could ask for the money back in a written request, then try small claims if you can't come to terms.

    If it is not in your lease I can't imagine why you ever paid it.
     
  5. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    You informed the landlord that you wanted to terminate the lease early.

    The landlord offered to agree to the early termination in exchange for payment of 2 additional months' rent beyond the time that you occupied the premises. You agreed and fully performed under the agreement. Whatever happened after that with the landlord and the premises is none of your concern.

    At the time you made the agreement, the landlord knew (or should have known) that the possibility existed that he/she/it might not find a new tenant to occupy the premises before 2 months after you vacated. In order to account for that possibility, the landlord could have made you a different offer: that you would pay a minimum of 2 additional months' rent, up to rent through June, depending on when the landlord found a new tenant through the use of reasonable diligence. The landlord did not do that and took the risk that it might not find a new tenant within the 2 months.

    At the time you made the agreement, you knew (or should have known) that the possibility existed that the landlord might find a new tenant to occupy the premises before 2 months after you vacated. You could have countered the landlord's offer by offering to pay 2 additional months' rent, but, if the landlord found a new tenant within the 2 months, you'd get some of that additional rent. You did not do that and took the risk that the landlord might find a new tenant within the 2 months.

    Each of you and landlord took a risk when making the agreement to terminate early. You paid a fee to get out of the lease early and considered that fee to be reasonable. Now you want to say, "although I considered our agreement to be fair, I'd now like to alter the agreement, after the fact, because we could have made a different agreement that would have been more favorable to me." Do you really think that's reasonable?

    Let me ask you this: if the landlord was unable to find a new tenant within the 2 months period and came back to you asking for more money, would you be willing to pay more?


    The OP paid it because the alternative was to be stuck with a lease through June. The "fee" gave the OP certainly with respect to how much of the rent he/she would be stuck with after vacating.
     
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  6. SteveDay

    SteveDay Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Well, thank you for the replies.

    Funny how some people make it seem like I am not asking a valid question. Funny how some people make it seem that I have not read the lease. I have. It does make mention of an early termination fee, which is at "our sole discretion", and the $ amt is not specified, nor is the time frame. Instead, it says that the fee will be based on "what we charge in the community from time to time".

    We all know that it is indeed at their sole discretion - I am just asking whether or not they have the right to charge me for time that the unit is occupied by someone else, when the lease doesn't get into that.
     
  7. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Your question was clearly answered above: They are not charging you for "time that the unit is occupied by someone else". What you and the LL agreed upon was a fee that is equal to two month's rent. That is different than two month's rent. You weren't paying rent...you were paying a fee.
     
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  8. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Did you not read my prior response?

    You had an agreement in place -- your lease. That agreement obligated you to pay rent through the end date of the tenancy (apparently June 30, 2021).

    You contacted the landlord and asked to terminate the lease early. The landlord could have just said no, in which case, you'd have remained liable through the end of the lease term, subject to any statutory duty to mitigate.

    But the landlord didn't say no. Instead, the landlord proposed a new agreement to terminate the existing agreement (lease) early. You apparently agreed to the terms of this new agreement, and the new agreement was supported by consideration (they landlord agree to terminate the lease early, and you agreed to pay a fixed amount of money). This was a perfectly valid and legal agreement and, once you vacated and paid the agreed sum (which I would not characterize as a "fee"), the agreement was fully performed, and whatever happened after that with the landlord and the premises is none of your concern.
     
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  9. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Funny some people fail to understand rights have NOTHING to do with CONTRACT disputes.
     
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  10. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Had you moved out and not paid the two month fee the landlord would have had to pursue you in court to get it.
    Had the landlord done that and still rented out the apartment, the landlord likely would have only recovered the one month since that is the actual loss.
    Once you agreed to pay you limited your options. I think it is unlikely you would recover anything at this point, but if you wanted to you could certainly ask.
     
  11. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    To be clear, once the OP entered in to a new contract he limited his options. Your post is, in a convoluted way, saying exactly what the OP has already been told.
     
  12. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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    Steve...If the LL is unable to rent the apartment until July, would you think it fair of him to come after you for April, May and Junes rent? Or would you say: "No, sir. We had an agreement that if I paid Xxxx.xx in early termination fee's I could break my lease. I am not going to pay 4/21-6-21"
     
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