As a landlord, what are my rights to keep a tenant’s security deposit as an early termination fee?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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As a landlord, what are my rights to keep a tenant’s security deposit as an early termination fee?

A woman signed a professional lease contract to rent my house. Upon signing, she was aware that there was a clause of a 60 day early termination fee $850 if the renter vacated the home prior to the 12 month period. The renter’s husband decided that he does not want to live in the home and is demanding the security deposit back. Do I have to give the security deposit back as the renter not her husband knowingly signed and agreed to the conditions of the lease?

Asked on August 26, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

She is bound by her signature on the lease and agreement to the early termination fee regardless of whether her husband wants the space or not. Since you have a signed lease, you are entitled to keep any amounts which the lease allows you to keep. She is actually lucky and should be grateful tha you only keeping this much if there was no provision allowing early termination even at a penalty, you could have held her for all the rent due under the lease for its entire term.

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