Upon breaking a lease option due to military relocation orders, are we entitled to the deposit we put down on the property?

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Upon breaking a lease option due to military relocation orders, are we entitled to the deposit we put down on the property?

Asked on October 17, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

This is my understanding of the law in at least Houston, Texas. If you are a servicemember or a dependent of a servicemember, you may terminate your lease and leave the property without further obligation for future rent or termination fees if the lease was executed by the ser- vicemember before entering military service, or if the servicemember executes the lease while in military service and then is ordered to a permanent change of station or to deploy for more than 90 days. To terminate the lease, you must give the landlord written notice of termination of the lease and a copy of government documents showing that either the tenant entered military service or was ordered to change station or deploy. If your lease does not contain language informing you of your rights to terminate the lease in situations involving family violence or military deployment/transfer, you will be released from liability for past unpaid rent. If the lease does contain such language, you will still be responsible for rent owed to the landlord before you terminated the lease. If a landlord does not let you terminate the lease under these conditions, she may be liable to you for one month’s rent, plus $500 and attorneys’ fees.  Now, have you taken occupancy and do you mean a security deposit?  That deposit is still valid for use by the landlord for damages over and above normal wear and tear and what ever the law in your area allows (some states allow for utilities, etc.).  Do a walk through when you leave and get them to sign off on the shape of the apartment.  If they do not comply with local law upon return of the deposit (after you send them your new mailing address in writing) sue them in small claims court.  Good luck and thank you for your service to our country.  


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