If Inever signed a lease butwas charged me an early termination fee, is this legal?

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If Inever signed a lease butwas charged me an early termination fee, is this legal?

I lived in the apartment for 6 years. After my 6 month lease was completed I never signed another. After 4 months of living there without a lease I gave notice that I was moving 200 miles away. The leasing agent told me that I was on a month-to-month lease and I would have to give a 60-day notice.Aafter giving notice, 5 days later I received a letter stating that I needed to pay an additional months rent for breaking the lease. I called them and they said although I did not sign a lease I signed a letter of intent 2 months before my last lease was complete. It stated that I  intended to sign another 6 month lease.

Asked on October 15, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Contracts--and leases are contracts, after all--can be formed in several different ways. It does not always have to be b two parties formally signing the same piece of paper. In a case like you describe, if there was an existing lease, it is possible that a writing from you stating that you were going to renew the lease on the same terms as prior leases would be taken as a lease renewal. 

However, then the question is how the timing works out--if you were there for 4 months of a potential 6 month term, then gave 60 days notice (so, 2 months), it would seem that even if it were the case that your letter of intent constituted a lease renewal, that you would have still fulfilled the term--4 months residence + 2 months notice = 6  months.

Note that normally, if there was no lease in place, a month-to-month tenant only owes 1 months notice, not 60 days.


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