Can a landlord charge a tenant a fee if they will not lose anymoney once the tenant vacates?

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Can a landlord charge a tenant a fee if they will not lose anymoney once the tenant vacates?

We signed an annually renewing contract with our landlord last year and renewed this year. Now we’re buying a home. As stipulated by our contract we gave him 2 months written notice on the 30th of last month. He has found someone and has a contract with them to move-in in 6 weeks; she will have no loss of revenue. However our contract also stipulated that there is a 3 month penalty to be paid in addition to the 2 months notice when we move out. Are we still obliged to pay this even though he will not lose any revenue?

Asked on October 15, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Yes, in this case you'd have to pay the early termination fee, because you contractually (the lease is a contract, after all) agreed to pay regardless of whether or not--or when--the landlord re-let (or re-rented) the premises. If there had not been a specific term in your lease requiring you to pay this, you would not have to pay if the landlord suffered no loss.


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