Can an apartment complex sue me if they rejected my offer to make payments when I broke a lease?

UPDATED: May 27, 2011

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Can an apartment complex sue me if they rejected my offer to make payments when I broke a lease?

I moved out of an apartment complex almost 3 years ago. I offered the manager to make payments on the remaining amount of the lease. She told me that I couldn’t do that and that their lawyer would contact me. Then a little later I talked with the lawyer and he said he couldn’t accept the amount that I wanted to pay monthly. I tried to pay $100 a month until income tax time and then was going to pay it off. Well now almost 3 years later they are trying to sue me. What can I do and are they even allowed to do that?

Asked on May 27, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If you break a lease, you are liable for the full remaining amount of rent due under the lease. The landlord will often accept a payment plan, but is not obigated to do so; in fact, no creditor is ever obligated to accept a payment plan, and the debtor cannot make a creditor accept one. Instead the creditor can hold out for or insist on payment in full when due.

Therefore, you can't force the other side to allow you to pay the money owed in installments. If you will be able to pay it shortly (e.g. with a tax refund), you may not have to worry much; even if they sue you, if you pay before the matter gets to court, you should be ok (though they may try to get certain costs or fees from you, too). If you simply can't pay, then you may need to consider bankruptcy as an option.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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