Under what conditions canI break a sub-lease?

I signed a sub-lease with a girl and I found out she is stealing from me, charging me too much for utilities and rent, and taking the check I write her for utilities and spending it on her own personal items. We keep receiving warnings that the gas and electric will be shut off because she isn’t using our money we give her to pay. The sublease looks like she downloaded it from “free-contracts.com” I’m moving out, does she has grounds to sue me for the remaining rent?

Asked on July 21, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Note that stealing from you, oddly enough, does not necessarily give you a right to break a lease; it could certainly give rise to a separate cause of action to recover the money stolen, but does not automatically provide grounds for terminating a lease.

However, if the person you're subleasing from is violating key or material terms of the lease, such as (1) charging you more than the lease provides you should charge; or (2) not providing services (such as allowing utilities to get shut off), that may provide good grounds to terminate the lease, or at least sue her for damages (return of overcharges, for example).

You may wish to consider negotiating your way out of the lease by agreeing that if she executes a document allowing you out of the lease (terminating it), you will not in turn sue for any money she has taken from you. It would be in your interest to discuss the matter with an attorney who handles landlord-tenant matters and who can give you actual legal counsel based on the specifics of your situation.


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