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Broke Lease - New Tenant Signed Lease but Won't Pay

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Broke Lease - New Tenant Signed Lease but Won't Pay

Postby Tenant_Frustrated » Sun Jul 17, 2016 12:15 pm

New to this forum, apologies if this has already been answered elsewhere.

My situation is I am breaking a 3 year lease after 1 year. Landlord said I would be "responsible for finding new fully qualified renters, willing to rent at least for the two years remaining on your contract."

I paid money to place ads on a couple of sites had about 5 interested parties, but the 1st party eventually signed a 2-year lease with the landlord.

The new tenant appears to be getting cold feet (due to random issues like the condition of the floor and no refrigerator, etc.) and has not sent his security deposit in the mail. Again, he signed a 2-year lease with the landlord which I have a copy of.

The landlord seems to still be putting the responsibility on my shoulders to find a new tenant. I feel I have met my obligation. I am 2 weeks from closing on a house, a decision I made after being notified the new tenant had signed a lease.

I can provide the legalese in my lease regarding breaking the lease (it only mentions abandonment).

Thoughts?
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Re: Broke Lease - New Tenant Signed Lease but Won't Pay

Postby TenantNet » Sun Jul 17, 2016 12:46 pm

First, you're not in NYC so the laws may differ in your locality.

When a tenant signs a lease, you're responsible for the rent for the term of the lease. Some situations allow the tenant to find a new tenant who assumes the lease. In other areas (not NYC) it's up to the LL to show they have suffered economically and they have not been able to find new tenants. That puts the burden on the LL.

If you found a new tenant and the LL accepts this tenant, then the onus is off you, and the lease obligations are now between the LL and the new tenant.

In our view, if the new tenant has signed the lease, but has not moved in and has cold feet, it should be up to him to get out of the new lease. But this is just an opinion and not based on any case law. Some areas might say that you (the old tenant) is still responsible until a new tenant has actually put money down on the new lease, either as a deposit, or as rent, or both.

What you should do is consult with an attorney in your location who knows real estate law.
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Re: Broke Lease - New Tenant Signed Lease but Won't Pay

Postby Tenant_Frustrated » Sun Jul 17, 2016 12:54 pm

TenantNet,

Thanks for the reply. After I asked the landlord if he would be pursuing legal action against the new tenant, he said yes, but said I should do the same.

I don't see how I could pursue legal action against the new tenant since he didn't enter into any contract with myself, he entered into it with the landlord.

Wouldn't you agree?
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Re: Broke Lease - New Tenant Signed Lease but Won't Pay

Postby TenantNet » Sun Jul 17, 2016 1:13 pm

There's no reason for you tor pursue legal action against the new tenant. There is no landlord-tenant relationship between you. However, as I explained, the LL might take legal action against you claiming it's still your responsibility. I don't think that's the case, but consult a local attorney. The fundamental question is at what point is your lease obligation ended? Is it the signing of a new lease by the new tenant? Is it the payment of the deposit or rent?

BTW, have you returned possession of the unit back to the LL? Did you give him the keys? Did he accept them? Any witnesses or paper to prove this? I would say the signing of the new lease is the same thing as transferring possession, but don't let this become the issue.
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Re: Broke Lease - New Tenant Signed Lease but Won't Pay

Postby Tenant_Frustrated » Sun Jul 17, 2016 1:23 pm

I understand the landlord may try and pursue legal action against me. That's precisely why I was looking for opinions on the matter.

I am fully aware a message board on the Internet is not legal advice, but was curious nonetheless.

I am still occupying the house as I cannot move into my new house until I close.

I have movers scheduled to move me out as soon as I close.

It's an unfortunate situation as I do get along with the landlord, but I do not feel legally obligated beyond the date of the new signed lease.

Thanks for your time.
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Re: Broke Lease - New Tenant Signed Lease but Won't Pay

Postby BubbaJoe123 » Mon Jul 18, 2016 9:48 am

If the new tenant hasn't paid a security deposit, then a good argument could be made (and I assume the LL's lawyer would make such an argument) that the new tenant hasn't really satisfied the conditions for beginning a tenancy.
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