Can a sublandlord sue a subtenant for leaving the premises without sufficent notice on a 3 month rental?

I entered into an email sublease agreement with a sublandlord for a period of 3 months. We did not sign the sublease agreement (we were both just careless). She agreed for 3 family visits per month initially (over email) but later refused to allow my husband to visit me for more than once a month. I am pregnant and husband lives in another city. Given this situation, I find it very hard to live in this place. Can I simply move out (take my stuff out and give her the keys) and ask her to keep the deposit? I am 2 weeks late for paying of month 2 rent because of this.

Asked on July 12, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If the agreement had been signed, there is no doubt but that the sublandlord could sue you for providing insufficient notice. Since the agreement is not signed, she *probably* can only hold you liable for one month's rent, since typically, when there is no signed lease, a month-to-month tenancy (30 days notice to terminate) on an oral lease is created. However, it is  possible that the sublandlord might argue, and a court might accept, that the failure to sign was a purely "ministerial" or administrative error, of no importance, and with both parties having evidently agreed to a lease which was fully written out, that it should be considered that there was a written lease for three months. Therefore, there is a chance you could be held liable for the full remaining balance of the lease term.

If she does try to hold you accountable for the additional time, you may be able to argue that she breached her representations to you--representations which formed the basis for your decision to enter into the lease--by not allowing three visits per month, and/or that she was violating the lease itself, by imputing a term (only 1 visit) which was not in the lease. This assumes, however, that the lease itself does not limit visits to once per month; if it does and you signed it, you can held to that term.

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