Can my apartment complex charge me any fees that are not in my lease?

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Can my apartment complex charge me any fees that are not in my lease?

I have read the lease a 1000 times and the fees they come up with are not in there and there is no mention about breaking the lease early or not getting the security deposit back; they make stuff up. I have not talked to the apartment complex yet about this; I want to make sure I’m right before I go any further. I will get out of my lease and get those fees back one way or another or I will take them to court. I work very hard for my money and I’m not going to just hand it over for no reason

Asked on April 25, 2012 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Although it may not be mentioned in the lease, if you break the lease you will be liable for the rent for the balance of the term of your lease or until the place is re-rented.  Once the place is re-rented, your obligation to pay rent ends.  However, if the new tenant is being charged less rent than you were paying, you would be liable for the difference in rent for the balance of the term of your lease.  The landlord has to mitigate (minimize) damages (the amount the landlord claims you owe) by having a valid reason such as market conditions for charging a new tenant less rent than you were paying.  If the the landlord does not have a valid reason to charge the new tenant less rent, the landlord has failed to mitigate damages and the landlord's damages will be reduced accordingly.

If you break the lease, the landlord has to mitigate damages by making reasonable efforts to find another tenant.  The landlord cannot allow the rental to remain vacant until the end of your lease without making reasonable efforts to find another tenant.  If the landlord does not make reasonable efforts to find another tenant, the landlord has failed to mitigate damages and the landlord's damages will be reduced accordingly.  Reasonable efforts on the part of the landlord to find another tenant will be determined by what other landlords in the area are doing to attract new tenants; for example, posting a sign on the property advertising the vacancy, advertising the rental in the newspaper, online or in a local rental guide, etc.

If you break the lease, the landlord may retain the security deposit or a portion of it to cover the damages (the amount the landlord is claiming you owe).


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