if we signed a lease for an apartment yesterday but have changed our minds, what can the landlord do now?

We do not have keys and have not occupied the residence. We told them we would forfeit the deposits.

Asked on July 30, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The landlord could sue you for all the money due under the lease--e.g. if the rent is $1,000/month and it's a 12-month lease, you could be sued for $12,000.

There are some limitations on this: the landlord cannot only get money up to the time when the case goes to court, so if he/she wants all the money, he/she needs to wait to file the case until the lease term has almost expired. And the landlord must make reasonable efforts to re-rent the space, and if he/she does, can only get the rent up to when it re-rented, if it  re-rents before the expiration of the lease term.

But subject to those limitations, a lease is a contract: in signing it, you obligated youreself to pay rent for the entire term of the lease. It doesn't matter whether you ever moved in or not--that does not affect your contractual obligation. The landlord may, of course, choose to just keep the deposit and call it even--but is not required to; the landlord could, as discussed, decide to sue.


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