How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

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StevenNJ1
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How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by StevenNJ1 »

I have to now break my lease 4-5 months before it ends and as my current rent is $1,800/mo, management company will charge me 1 month rent and keep my security deposit. Total $3,600

What are my options?

Thank you.
jebmke
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by jebmke »

Does your lease allow sublet?
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Gill
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by Gill »

Do you have the right under the lease to sublet the apartment?
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by Gill »

jebmke, great minds think alike!
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dm200
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by dm200 »

StevenNJ1 wrote:I have to now break my lease 4-5 months before it ends and as my current rent is $1,800/mo, management company will charge me 1 month rent and keep my security deposit. Total $3,600
What are my options?
Thank you.
Regarding the security deposit, I would check applicable laws/regs, but my understanding is that a security deposit is for damage to the rental unit - not for breaking the lease. I would also check all the wording in the lease.

The other issue, it seems to me, is how long the unit remains vacant. I do not think they can charge both you and a new tenant for the same period.

Although unlikely, check the lease to see if there are any applicable "exceptions" to penalties for breaking the lease early.
Last edited by dm200 on Sat May 06, 2017 10:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
Gill
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by Gill »

I see by your other thread you're the one who bought the new house, thus the need to break your lease. If you can't sublet you'll just have to absorb it as part of the cost of acquiring the house. Actually, I think you got off easy.
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by Gill »

dm200 wrote:Regarding the security deposit, I would check applicable laws/regs, but my understanding is that a security deposit is for damage to the rental unit - not for breaking the lease. I would also check all the wording in the lease.
Does it really matter where it comes from? The landlord could call it two month's rent, pay me $3,600 and I'll return your security deposit.
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by Pajamas »

Read your entire lease carefully and review any state or local laws governing landlord/tenant relations. Search for "tenant rights Chicago" or "tenants rights Illinois" substituting your state and city.

The terms (one month's rent and forfeiture of deposit) that they are offering you are actually very reasonable. In many similar situations, you would be liable for the entire rent due on the remainder of the lease term plus whatever portion of your deposit that is needed to cover any damages.
lakpr
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by lakpr »

In your other post you said you were buying a house, and presumably that's the reason why you are breaking your lease.

From what I know, the landlord can keep your security deposit and one month's rent. According to New Jersey law, the landlord should make good faith efforts to re-rent the unit within a reasonable period of time. That reasonable period might be about 1 month.

So your 1 month rent is toast ... you will not get it back.

The security deposit, however, is intended to cover any damage to the unit. If you turn in your unit (and make sure you take photos to document this when you move out) in a good shape, the landlord is obligated to give this money back to you, assuming the landlord is successful in renting the unit again in a reasonable time frame. The amount of security deposit you will get back depends on the amount of time the unit remains un-rented.

I AM NOT A LAWYER, I am just a random guy on the internet; this is just my layman's understanding of the landlord-tenant relationship in NJ. Consult a lawyer to understand your full options.
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by rob »

Gill wrote:Does it really matter where it comes from? The landlord could call it two month's rent, pay me $3,600 and I'll return your security deposit.
While it sounds silly... In some places it does. There are rules on security deposits in some locations.
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dbr
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by dbr »

Gill wrote:I see by your other thread you're the one who bought the new house, thus the need to break your lease. If you can't sublet you'll just have to absorb it as part of the cost of acquiring the house. Actually, I think you got off easy.
Gill
I agree. You pay what the lease agreement says, apparently one month rent and forfeit the security deposit. The agreement could have been to continue paying rent until the unit is rented to someone else and possibly in that case not forfeit the deposit, but a contract is a contract.

As far as what you can do about it, you ask nicely for the landlord to let you off the hook perhaps for the security deposit and see if they agree or laugh at you. It is possible but unlikely that somehow the conditions in the lease are not legal in your locality. You can always investigate that.
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by ResearchMed »

rob wrote:
Gill wrote:Does it really matter where it comes from? The landlord could call it two month's rent, pay me $3,600 and I'll return your security deposit.
While it sounds silly... In some places it does. There are rules on security deposits in some locations.
This ^^

This is presumably why in some areas it is conventional to request (aka "demand"!) "First, Last, and Security Deposit [usually another month rent]".

Owner would get to keep that "Last" month's rent, but not the Security Deposit *unless* there was damage.

Of course, depending upon the terms of the lease, the owner might have recourse to come after the vanishing renter for "all of the remaining rent", albeit there is likely to be a required "good faith" effort to re-rent the apartment, and thus not hold that new rental income from the vanishing renter.
The less rent remaining, the less likely an owner is to bother with the expenses of collecting, etc.

I agree that it sounds quite reasonable for two months' rent, and I'd consider not fighting this particular battle.
(I'm also writing here from the perspective of both a former renter and a former landlady.)

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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by Mike Scott »

What are the terms you signed in your lease agreement?
millennialfalcon
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by millennialfalcon »

See if your landlord will negotiate on the amount to break the lease. Ask nicely.

I was in a similar situation as you, had bought a house (found one that was just right a little earlier than we thought we might). We asked politely of our corporate landlord who replied, equally politely, that our obligation was until the lease said. Fair. We paid until the end of our lease term, even though we had moved out months prior.

Like a poster said above, consider this as part of the cost of buying your new house. Your lease is a contract, an obligation, and it needs to be taken into account when you voluntarily move for any reason. That you have longer than 2 months of your lease, and you are getting away for just that, I'd say you are unlikely to do any better than that.

Finally, if your lease allows, subleasing to someone might be good. It might be more hassle than you want. There's also Airbnb, if your lease allows.

I hope my post does not sound harsh, as I am only relaying my opinion based upon what I did in a very similar situation.

Good luck.
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by Big Dog »

Regarding the security deposit, I would check applicable laws/regs, but my understanding is that a security deposit is for damage to the rental unit - not for breaking the lease. I would also check all the wording in the lease.
State law/regs not relevant since the landlord is offering to cancel the existing contract for a payment of $3600. (Or, if you prefer, pay me for three months -- $5400 -- and I'll refund the $1800 deposit if the place is broom clean; net-net = $3600 out of pocket.) The new deal will supersede the current.

Look at it another way, no need to clean the place since the deposit is being forfeited.
Last edited by Big Dog on Sat May 06, 2017 11:53 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by Pajamas »

Be aware that if you sublease, you will still be responsible for the rent through the end of the lease plus any damages to the apartment. The risk may not be worth it.
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by Northern Flicker »

StevenNJ1 wrote:I have to now break my lease 4-5 months before it ends and as my current rent is $1,800/mo, management company will charge me 1 month rent and keep my security deposit. Total $3,600

What are my options?

Thank you.
In many states, the landlord or property manager must make a good faith effort to mitigate the damages by finding another renter, and you are responsible only for the net loss of rental income incurred by the transition. That said, the property manager has no obligation to be frugal in how they manage the turnover, just reasonable, so this would likely incur a loss of about a month's rent and actual cleaning and marketing costs.

The best place to start is a friendly conversation with the landlord/manager in which you explain your situation and try to negotiate a mutual agreement to terminate the lease.

If you can find a potential sublettor it would be much better just to have that person sign a new agreement with the landlord to replace yours rather than subletting. In a sublet arrangement you are still responsible for the rent and any damages while the sublettor is there, and your deposit and last month's rent remain tied up until your agreement is completed.

If the property manager is not helpful to do any of the above, an initial consultation with an attorney who practices landlord/tenant law would be an option so you know where you stand. If the terms of the lease agreement and state law differ on some points, in many states the state law prevails (cannot be superceded by a rental agreement), but there are states in which the agreement generally prevails.
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StevenNJ1
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by StevenNJ1 »

Thanks to all for great feedback. So much 2 options either to find a new renter who will move in (I believe my law they are not allowed to deny the opportunity for new renter to move in as long as that person qualifies financially) or find someone who will live off the remaining 3-4 months.
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by TropikThunder »

dm200 wrote: Regarding the security deposit, I would check applicable laws/regs, but my understanding is that a security deposit is for damage to the rental unit - not for breaking the lease.
Every apartment rental contract I recall signing included a lease termination clause for a fixed dollar amount (at least in the states of Texas and Washington). For example, a 12 month lease at $900 per month could be broken for $1500 with no limitation on how long into the lease this could happen. It could well be that the lease termination fee adds up to one month's rent plus the security deposit without having specified that the security deposit would be withheld. Then again, I have never had a lease which required a security deposit as high as one month's rent.
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by Loandapper »

You signed an agreement to pay a set amount of money for a set period of time. Now you want to "get out" of your contractual agreement. It's not that "they want" $3,600 - it's that you most likely signed something saying you could break your agreement in exchange for liquidated damages equal to your security deposit and a month of rent.

If you signed the agreement, you should honor it. Look at it this way: If you didn't have a clause for liquidated damages, they might "want" $9,000 - the equivalent of the remainder of the lease.
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by Nearly A Moose »

dm200 wrote:
StevenNJ1 wrote:I have to now break my lease 4-5 months before it ends and as my current rent is $1,800/mo, management company will charge me 1 month rent and keep my security deposit. Total $3,600
What are my options?
Thank you.
Regarding the security deposit, I would check applicable laws/regs, but my understanding is that a security deposit is for damage to the rental unit - not for breaking the lease. I would also check all the wording in the lease.

The other issue, it seems to me, is how long the unit remains vacant. I do not think they can charge both you and a new tenant for the same period.

Although unlikely, check the lease to see if there are any applicable "exceptions" to penalties for breaking the lease early.
This will be jurisdiction specific. What you say about security deposits holds true in DC, for example.

OP, check to see whether your state bar association has resources available covering landlord tenant law, like FAQs. Many do. You might also see if lawhelp.org has resources for your jurisdiction. Also, read your lease closely to see what the early termination penalties are.
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by Loandapper »

Big Dog wrote:Look at it another way, no need to clean the place since the deposit is being forfeited.
Hopefully this is a joke.

I'm sure both the lease and state law allow the landlord to seek additional damages over and above the security deposit. If, when you signed the lease, you agreed to forfeit the security deposit as liquidated damages for breaking the lease, then the landlord can come after you for ANY damage to the apartment.

I once watched someone in a position similar to yours. He lost his security deposit and decided to leave behind $5,000 in damages to the apartment, thinking he was covered because they were already taking the deposit. Nope. They were able to document all the damages and obtain a judgement against the renter. He not only had to pay it back but it also showed up on his credit score for many years. Ouch.
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by Nearly A Moose »

Big Dog wrote:
Regarding the security deposit, I would check applicable laws/regs, but my understanding is that a security deposit is for damage to the rental unit - not for breaking the lease. I would also check all the wording in the lease.
State law/regs not relevant since the landlord is offering to cancel the existing contract for a payment of $3600. (Or, if you prefer, pay me for three months -- $5400 -- and I'll refund the $1800 deposit if the place is broom clean; net-net = $3600 out of pocket.) The new deal will supersede the current.

Look at it another way, no need to clean the place since the deposit is being forfeited.
I can't agree with your statement that state laws aren't relevant. Many states or cities have laws governing landlord tenant issues that you cannot contract around; if the contract term is not consistent with that law, in many cases the term is void.

I also agree that 3600 isn't bad to get out of this lease, and that you could just take it to make a clean break. Landlord may gave an obligation to try to rent it out and return the difference to you, but again, its jurisdiction specific.
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by knpstr »

For all of those that say check the lease to see what it says - I think his lease probably states that he agreed in writing to live there 4-5 more months, the duration of his lease.

Overall, seems like a fair offer that they gave you to get out of your contract.
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by JGoneRiding »

dm200 wrote:
StevenNJ1 wrote:I have to now break my lease 4-5 months before it ends and as my current rent is $1,800/mo, management company will charge me 1 month rent and keep my security deposit. Total $3,600
What are my options?
Thank you.
Regarding the security deposit, I would check applicable laws/regs, but my understanding is that a security deposit is for damage to the rental unit - not for breaking the lease. I would also check all the wording in the lease.

The other issue, it seems to me, is how long the unit remains vacant. I do not think they can charge both you and a new tenant for the same period.

Although unlikely, check the lease to see if there are any applicable "exceptions" to penalties for breaking the lease early.
As a landlord I can tell you that as long as it is called a security deposit it is useful for ALL debts owed. As a result they are NEVER called damage deposits in a lease any more. States changed the laws. Landlords had to change the definitions
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by ellsbebc »

Many jurisdictions do not allow for a lease termination fee to include deposit forfeiture. From a legal standpoint, there is significant difference if the lease is written as 2x rent termination fee or 1x rent PLUS deposit.

For sake of discussion, let's assume OP's lease does read as 2x rent. If the landlord is able to find a new tenant within 30 days, landlord is still entitled to the term fee AND the new tenant's rent. It is not considered double rent because OP paid a fee and new tenant is rent. This varies by jurisdiction. For example, Florida regulations require the tenant to choose at time of lease execution if they elect for their early termination fee to be a flat fee (settlement) or pay lesser of (1) rent until lease end date OR (2) unit is re-leased (mitigation).
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by Nearly A Moose »

JGoneRiding wrote:
dm200 wrote:
StevenNJ1 wrote:I have to now break my lease 4-5 months before it ends and as my current rent is $1,800/mo, management company will charge me 1 month rent and keep my security deposit. Total $3,600
What are my options?
Thank you.
Regarding the security deposit, I would check applicable laws/regs, but my understanding is that a security deposit is for damage to the rental unit - not for breaking the lease. I would also check all the wording in the lease.

The other issue, it seems to me, is how long the unit remains vacant. I do not think they can charge both you and a new tenant for the same period.

Although unlikely, check the lease to see if there are any applicable "exceptions" to penalties for breaking the lease early.
As a landlord I can tell you that as long as it is called a security deposit it is useful for ALL debts owed. As a result they are NEVER called damage deposits in a lease any more. States changed the laws. Landlords had to change the definitions
Again, jurisdiction specific. This is not the case in all jurisdictions. It may well be in yours. But it's a reminder that you have to be careful looking for nationwide advice on an issue governed by local law.
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informal guide
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by informal guide »

My daughter in the NY area was on the other side of a transaction like this. She found a place through a web site, Leasebreak.com (I have no financial interest in it!). She agreed to take on a 15 month lease, the old tenant kicked in a bit to lower the first three months rent, and the landlord got a renewal at a specified price without a vacancy period. Management companies and individual landlords are all over the lot - -be nice and see if you can negotiate something better than what the paper lease term states or what the landlord offers in their first offer.
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by Northern Flicker »

knpstr wrote:For all of those that say check the lease to see what it says - I think his lease probably states that he agreed in writing to live there 4-5 more months, the duration of his lease.

Overall, seems like a fair offer that they gave you to get out of your contract.
If that offer exceeds what is allowed by state or local laws, and the state or local laws cannot be superseded by terms of a rental agreement, then there isn't much that is fair about it.
Landlord’s Duty to Find a New Tenant in New Jersey

If you don’t have a legal justification to break your lease, the good news is that you may still be off the hook for paying all the rent due for the remaining lease term. This is because under New Jersey law (Sommer v. Kridel, 378 A.2d 767 (N.J. 1977)), your landlord must make reasonable efforts to re-rent your unit—no matter what your reason for leaving—rather than charge you for the total remaining rent due under the lease. So you may not have to pay much, if any additional rent, if you break your lease. You need pay only the amount of rent the landlord loses because you moved out early. This is because New Jersey requires landlords to take reasonable steps to keep their losses to a minimum—or to “mitigate damages” in legal terms.
See: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/ ... ersey.html
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by knpstr »

jalbert wrote:
knpstr wrote:For all of those that say check the lease to see what it says - I think his lease probably states that he agreed in writing to live there 4-5 more months, the duration of his lease.

Overall, seems like a fair offer that they gave you to get out of your contract.
If that offer exceeds what is allowed by state or local laws, and the state or local laws cannot be superseded by terms of a rental agreement, then there isn't much that is fair about it.
Landlord’s Duty to Find a New Tenant in New Jersey

If you don’t have a legal justification to break your lease, the good news is that you may still be off the hook for paying all the rent due for the remaining lease term. This is because under New Jersey law (Sommer v. Kridel, 378 A.2d 767 (N.J. 1977)), your landlord must make reasonable efforts to re-rent your unit—no matter what your reason for leaving—rather than charge you for the total remaining rent due under the lease. So you may not have to pay much, if any additional rent, if you break your lease. You need pay only the amount of rent the landlord loses because you moved out early. This is because New Jersey requires landlords to take reasonable steps to keep their losses to a minimum—or to “mitigate damages” in legal terms.
See: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/ ... ersey.html
Yep and they are charging 2 months worth or 1 month plus deposit. not the 5 months he has remaining.

1 month is absolutely a reasonable time to collect on re-rent charges. Plus any damages, extra cleaning, etc...

In the end, it is a fair offer. Certainly if they were asking for the full 5 months plus deposit, that would be unreasonable.
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by mouses »

Loandapper wrote:You signed an agreement to pay a set amount of money for a set period of time. Now you want to "get out" of your contractual agreement. It's not that "they want" $3,600 - it's that you most likely signed something saying you could break your agreement in exchange for liquidated damages equal to your security deposit and a month of rent.

If you signed the agreement, you should honor it. Look at it this way: If you didn't have a clause for liquidated damages, they might "want" $9,000 - the equivalent of the remainder of the lease.
+1 Your landlord is being nice. Payup and consider yourself lucky. Messing around is likely to make things worse. What happens if you sublet to people who trash the apartment? or you irritate the landlord and he or she demands full payment.
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by cherijoh »

Nearly A Moose wrote:
Again, jurisdiction specific. This is not the case in all jurisdictions. It may well be in yours. But it's a reminder that you have to be careful looking for nationwide advice on an issue governed by local law.
+1
Depending on the jurisdiction the law can strongly favor the landlord, strongly favor the tenant, or be more even-handed.

OP didn't indicate whether he is renting from an individual landlord or from a corporation. It is conceivable that if the landlord is not a professional that the lease contains terms that are not enforceable in that jurisdiction. But that could be a moot point if the local law allows the landlord to collect on rent for the duration of the lease but puts the security deposit off limits.
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by WhyNotUs »

Assuming that you are in NJ, the state law says that if you move out the landlord needs to try to rent the apartment and you are on the hook if he/she does not find a qualified tenant. If they do then you are done.

So you could
1.) pay the $3600 and get a letter canceling the lease and your obligations for damages and rent
2.) Tell them the date that you are moving out and leave it in great shape ready to rent and hope that it rents quickly, while being prepared for up to 5 months at $1800 potential liability
3.) Ask them to start showing it right away and give the rights for that to happen now.

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/ ... ersey.html
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Nyc10036
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by Nyc10036 »

I have rented in NJ.
The OP is getting off easy for $3600 to break a lease.
Unless he has his entire family living in a studio apartment, the rent for a 2 bedroom apartment is not cheap. I was paying $1600/month 5 years ago.
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by Big Dog »

I can't agree with your statement that state laws aren't relevant. Many states or cities have laws governing landlord tenant issues that you cannot contract around; if the contract term is not consistent with that law, in many cases the term is void.
Well sure, IF the contract was in violation of the state law when it was signed, it could be void. But that is is not the question the OP is asking. Assuming the OP has valid contract for his/her lease, the question is how to void that lease (aka, 'get out of it'). But, absent any other info, the only way to get out of the agreement is to offer a settlement, generally in cash. That settlement then supersedes the existing lease agreement.

A state requirement about good-faith efforts to re-rent(NJ) is probably not worth planning on, unless its a really hot market, like Silicon Valley. The likelihood is that the apartment will sit vacant for at least one month. So the state requirement is of little benefit at this point, as the OP only has ~4 months to go, and therefore not relevant. Moreover, by insisting on the NJ re-rent statute, the OP could be liable for the full amount of the rent if the landlord does not a find a future tenant.
blueman457
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by blueman457 »

Only 2 months to break a lease? Definitely on the better deal. Subletting may be an option too.
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by Northern Flicker »

Yep and they are charging 2 months worth or 1 month plus deposit. not the 5 months he has remaining.

1 month is absolutely a reasonable time to collect on re-rent charges. Plus any damages, extra cleaning, etc...

In the end, it is a fair offer. Certainly if they were asking for the full 5 months plus deposit, that would be unreasonable.
I think the OP can negotiate a better deal if the rental market there is tight. What matters is how tight or soft the rental market is, not the term remaining on the lease, given the state requirement to mitigate the termination. 2 month's rent to mitigate a residential lease would be a good deal in a high vacancy market but not a tight market. I would try for 1 month's rent plus $200 to clean, if not more unless there is a high vacancy rate. The apartment may only sit vacant for 2 weeks.
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Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

Water under bridge now, but would have tried to negotiate with landlord before you actually notified them you were moving. Advance notice may have made it easier for them to rent the place and you'd likely only be out the deposit.
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Nyc10036
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by Nyc10036 »

jalbert wrote: The apartment may only sit vacant for 2 weeks.
2 weeks is not reasonable given that there are credit check etc.
The new tenant also has his/her own lease. He/she will sign the lease to start when they need it to.

My experience as a renter is that 1 month is more the norm.
Nyc10036
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Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by Nyc10036 »

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:Water under bridge now, but would have tried to negotiate with landlord before you actually notified them you were moving. Advance notice may have made it easier for them to rent the place and you'd likely only be out the deposit.
That would presume that the OP would want the landlord showing the apartment when they are not at home.
Grt2bOutdoors
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Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 8:20 pm
Location: New York

Re: How to get out of a apartment renter lease? They want $3,600

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

Nyc10036 wrote:
Grt2bOutdoors wrote:Water under bridge now, but would have tried to negotiate with landlord before you actually notified them you were moving. Advance notice may have made it easier for them to rent the place and you'd likely only be out the deposit.
That would presume that the OP would want the landlord showing the apartment when they are not at home.
Perhaps not, but then again, the lessee can't have everything either.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions
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