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Lease Break with Free Month

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Lease Break with Free Month

Postby smpearson23 » Thu Nov 12, 2009 6:23 pm

I broke my lease at the beginning of October. Luckily my landlord was able to re-rent my apartment on November 1st.

I understand that I need to pay for the month of October since the apartment was vacant, but my landlord is telling me that I need to also pay for the month of November because they gave the new tenant a free month rent as an enticement to move in.

I also know that they received a higher rent for the apartment than what I was paying.

Do I have to pay the month of November? They choose to give a free month's rent instead of a lower monthly rent. Why am I responsible for that? If they had given a lower monthly rent (which would still be higher than what I paid), I wouldn't be responsible for anything. If I amortize the free month over the length of the new lease and subtract that from the new monthly payment, it is still more than what I paid.

What can I do?

Thanks,
steve.
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Postby TenantNet » Thu Nov 12, 2009 6:56 pm

When did you return possession of the unit to the LL? (i.e., when and how did you turn over the keys?)
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Return of Unit

Postby smpearson23 » Thu Nov 12, 2009 7:09 pm

Thanks for the reply:

I gave the keys back to the owner on September 30th.

The new tenant moved in on November 1st and the new lease started then, but because the new tenant didn't pay for the month of November (it was the "free" month). The LL is saying I have to pay for November as well as October.

I don't think I should have to pay for the month of November because the effective rent the LL is receiving is still higher than my rent (by spreading the free month out over the course of the entire lease). At the minimum this should be spread out over the 5 months remaining on my lease.

Example numbers:
My rent: $1000
New rent: $1300
Affective new rent spead over a year: $1100 (11 months * $1200 / 12 months) - I should owe nothing for November
Affective new rent spread over 5 months: $960 (4 months * $1200 / 5 months) - I should owe $40 for November

Thanks
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Postby TenantNet » Thu Nov 12, 2009 7:25 pm

Forget all the calculations, that's just noise.

You have up possession on 9/30. The LL accepted. You did not have possession after that. Unless the LL stated that the obligations of the lease continued after 9/30. in my opinion, you would be off-the-hook on that date. (but others might disagree with that.) The LL could have rented it as of 10/1. It was available.

But certainly when they re-rented it at the same of higher rent on 11/1, that absolutely ends any obligation. Don't torture yourself with calculations.

Don't pay.
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Lease Break

Postby smpearson23 » Thu Nov 12, 2009 7:28 pm

I think you may have missed the first part of the original post.

I broke my lease on September 30th. My lease goes until March.

Had they not re-rented in November, I would be paying until March.

As I said, I'm fine paying for October. It's just this "free" month of November (when someone was actually living in the apartment) which I don't want to pay for.
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Postby TenantNet » Thu Nov 12, 2009 7:43 pm

I didn't misunderstand. Tenants are normally obligated for the term of the lease -- in this case, until March.

You gave up possession and the LL accepted. At that point the LL had possession, not you. That's why I believe your obligations end as of 9/30, although I understand that some would disagree.

If the LL wants to make you pay for the rest of the term, then you have a right to keep the place (albeit empty) until March.

But when they re-rent the place, your obligation ends. That's it.
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Keys

Postby smpearson23 » Thu Nov 12, 2009 7:50 pm

So handing over my keys to the super and having him take them is all that's needed? I have a feeling that's going to a hard argument to win.

Let's assume they didn't accept the keys then. Would I be on the hook for November (the "free" month) or just October?
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Postby TenantNet » Thu Nov 12, 2009 8:12 pm

Look, it would be stupid to give the keys to a super. I've seen many times where LL's claim they never got possession.

You give it to the LL and have them give you a release or you give them notice that you are returning possession. Many won't but some might. It's the legal act of turning over possession, so it needs to be documented.

If they re-rent, they can't do that unless they have possession, right?
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Break Lease

Postby smpearson23 » Thu Nov 12, 2009 8:31 pm

I'm pretty sure under New York City law that I'm obligated to pay until they re-rent it.
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Postby TenantNet » Thu Nov 12, 2009 9:27 pm

That's often the case, but there are exceptions. And BTW, it's not a law.
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Postby smpearson23 » Thu Nov 12, 2009 10:08 pm

I'm still not sure where I stand here.

The LL says "I'm responsible for all costs of the apartment until it is re-rented". Is this true?

And is the "free" month a cost?
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Postby TenantNet » Thu Nov 12, 2009 11:29 pm

Let's try this again. In general (with some exceptions) a tenant is responsible for the rent for the term of the lease. That means rent.

Verified damages might be added, but that's a different discussion.

There might be specific fees in the lease, but if so, I would think it would be like an early termination penalty, and usually in lieu of the rent for the remainder of the term. But it has to be in the lease.

Costs to re-rent the place, i.e., cleaning, painting, classified ads, are generally costs of doing business to the LL. As above, in some cases they are specified as an early termination fee, but certainly not at the end of a full term.

An incentive given to the new tenant is not a cost to you.
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Postby Landlord's Boy » Thu Nov 19, 2009 11:31 pm

The issue is not possession. The issue is "abandonment" and is usually covered by a specific clause of the lease. In general, the LL is not liable for any loss of rent in such cases - which means the OP does indeed have to pay for the "free" month of the incoming tenant. DOn't believe me, read your lease or check with a lawyer to be sure.
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Postby TenantNet » Fri Nov 20, 2009 12:32 am

LLB, you're wrong here. If the tenant is responsible for the rent for the remainder of the lease, then the tenant has a right to possession ... even if the unit is empty and no one is there ... it's still within the tenant's legal possession and the LL can't re-rent it while collecting rent from the current tenant. He can't double-dip.

Generally in such situations the LL could demand the rent from the tenant for November's rent, but he would have no right to rent the place. Conversely, the tenant would have the right to tell the LL not to rent it out.

When the LL takes the keys from the tenant, and the tenant gives up possession, the LL can re-rent the place, but he can no longer demand rent from the old tenant. And it is not abandonment. This is apparently happening with the LL's knowledge and consent.
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Postby Landlord's Boy » Fri Nov 20, 2009 1:33 am

"If the tenant is responsible for the rent for the remainder of the lease, then the tenant has a right to possession ... even if the unit is empty and no one is there ... it's still within the tenant's legal possession and the LL can't re-rent it while collecting rent from the current tenant."

Yep. Presumably LL got OP's permission to re-rent the unit.

"When the LL takes the keys from the tenant, and the tenant gives up possession, the LL can re-rent the place -"

I think you're a bit mixed up here. The lease is in effect no matter who has the keys, or else T's could cancel their leases by dropping their keys in the mail slot. There is no such provision for that, either in leases or in the law. (Of course, at the end of the lease term the tenant is considered to have surrendered possession of the unit when he gives up the keys - that's normal.)
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