Business lease termination

I am asking for someone that might be having some legal issues. She had a 2 year lease for her business but after over a year it was getting really hard to pay the rent. Someone from the management office told her that there was another person interested in the place and that she could vacate at the end of the month. Right after she moved out the building manager called and claims that he doesn’t know who she might have talked to. He says that the person who would’ve moved in is not interested in the place anymore and that she still needs to pay the rent.
She doesn’t have a written agreement of her vacating and leaving before the lease is up. Can they force some kind of legal action? I think it’s a case of bad communication in their office.

Asked on May 8, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

They can sue her for the rent (i.e. for the remaining period or time of the lease) and may  be able to win: generally, a written contract or lease can only be modified or terminated early in writing, not by unwritten (oral) agreements. While she might not have needed anything very formal (unless the lease itself states that it may be modified, etc. in a certain way--if it does, she would have had to follow those instructions or terms), she would have needed at least a confirming email or text message to show written agreement to the change. Without anything in writing, if they sue her for the money, while she can raise as a defense that she was orally told she could move out early, there is a better-than-fair chance that she would lose--especially if she can't even identify the person who spoke to her.

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