What should I do if a lienholder wants substantially more money than the amount their lien was for?

I provided 30 days notice to my apt that we had to move as we could not afford

the rate increase and had to break my lease. I was notified of

damages/cleaning/water/sewer/trash fees totaled about 2225.

I expected that we would have to pay a month’s market rent for breaking our

lease, however, the complex is seeking 3221.75 under liquidated damages section

of the lease we did sign. Is this reasonable or would I have any chance of

fighting this in court?

Asked on May 19, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If the lease states that the liquidated damages are $3,221.75 or sets forth a calcuation for them that comes to that number, that's what you have to pay: liquidated damages clauses are generally enforceable, so if you signed a lease with such a clause, you are held to it.
They do not have to settle for less, and they do not have to give you a payment plan: if you owe the money under the lease for breaking it, they have the right to insist on payment in full at once. 
If the lease is clear about the damages you owe, then if you breached the lease by terminating early, you would seem to have little chance of winning in court; when a lease or contract is clear and one side violates it, there is little discretion for the court, and the court typically must simply enforce its terms.


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