If our landlord tookcashed a rent checkwhen he said he would wait, does this constitute breaking the lease?

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If our landlord tookcashed a rent checkwhen he said he would wait, does this constitute breaking the lease?

My roommates and I live off campus. Our landlord told us when we signed the lease (all 3 of us plus 1 parent heard him say) that he would hold our rent checks until our school refunds came in. We have a paper from him saying as long as he has proof of the loans and the dates they come in, he will hold the checks and not cash them. Well, he ended up taking out 1 of our checks, even though he was specifically told that the loan was not in yet, and even though he said he would hold it. Does this constitute breaking the lease, since we have proof he said he would wait?

Asked on October 6, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) If the agreement to not cash the check yet was not in the lease itself, then it is not breach of the lease.

2) If there was an agreement, even an oral one, to hold the check, that would be breach of that agreement and you could potentially seek compensation for it. If he doesn't want to voluntarily provide some level of compensation, though, that you find acceptable, then you'd have to take legal action. In  legal action, you could only sue what you've actually been damaged for; so if you haven't actually suffered some significant cost or loss because of this (e.g. you didn't default on any other major obligations due to a lack of money), there's really nothing you could recover--the amount you can sue for is related to the damage you incured.

Note that as per the above, even if it were concluded that the landlord's actions breached the lease itself, if you didn't suffer any significant impact, the breach would be considered non-material. That means there'd be little or nothing to sue for, and it would not justify you terminating the lease.


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