Broke apartment lease 2 months early, landlord trying to charge more in fees than if I stayed. Legal?

I broke the lease 2 months early to buy a house, and gave the landlord notice. There is a clause in the contract that says I’m responsible for the rent until the end of my lease OR until it is re-rented. Also, if it’s re-rented they charge a fee equal to 1 month’s rent. They claim that the apartment was re-rented immediately after my lease ended, and because the contract was signed by the new tenant during my lease, they’re charging the full 2 months rent until the end of my lease PLUS the 1 month “fee”. So I’m now being charged more than the full year’s lease because I left early. Legal?

Asked on June 15, 2009 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey

Answers:

B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I don't think this would stand up in a New Jersey court.  It is just a windfall for the landlord, it doesn't represent any real damages at all, since there is no re-renting expense that the landlord would not have had anyway, if you legally moved out at the end of the lease.

It really isn't that different from when people put a deposit on a house, and pull out of the deal.  In that situation, if the market is going up and the house sells for more, the first buyers get all of their money back, because the seller is no worse off (actually better).  The New Jersey courts have already settled that one, and I think the principle is the same as in your case, based on what you've written here.

There may be other facts that affect the outcome in court, and in a lawsuit there can't be any guarantees.  Please have an attorney in your area review all the details of your case, for advice you can rely on.  One place to find a lawyer is our website, http://attorneypages.com

 


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