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Posts: 1
Reply with quote  #1 
I have a relatively new tenant who would like to end her one year lease after six months.  She is unhappy about noise in the unit as well as she cannot fit some of her furniture in the apartment.

I am willing to respect her wishes, but want to know what "penalty" is normal for breaking the lease.  I have been told that I could ask for two months rent plus the security deposit (one month's rent).  I think this may be excessive as this is a moderate income rental area.

Posts: 3,809
Reply with quote  #2 
First off, there are only 2 legal reasons to allow a tenant to break a lease.  (I say legal because these reasons are required reasons to allow a lease break without penalty by the government.)  They are for current military members who are being deployed and for victims of domestic violence.  Of couse, a medical reason (like not being able to climb the stairs), or the unit becoming uninhabitable (like after a fire) would be acceptable.  Too bad if her furniture won't fit.  She knew what size the place was before she signed.  She could have asked for room dimensions or brought a tape measure when she viewed the place.  She could sell her furniture, put it in storage, whatever.  Not your problem.  This excuse is lame.

Unless the noise level is out of control, it is not a reason to break a lease.  Is it normal noise (street noise, people walking in the hallways, people in unit above) that doesn't coincide with her schedule, or are neighboring tenants distubing the peace?  If it is your neighboring tenants, it is your responsibility to deal with it (and you should because it will run the next tenant off too).  If it is normal noise, she needs to learn to deal with it.  Unless it is violating her right to peaceful enjoyment, tough.

That said, you won't stop her from breaking the lease if she really wants to.  But you may be able to deter her from doing so by telling her the reasons are not legitimate reasons to break.  And by telling her that breaking her lease will ding her credit  because you will have to take her to court to recover any lost rent.  This will show up on her credit report as a judgment against her.  As you know if you screen well, no LL wants to see a judgment to a former LL on any applicant's report.

I hate to tell you, but liquidation clauses (lease break penalties) are illegal in Ohio.  Yes, big complexes use them because they are often owned out of state (and may use leases based on another state's law) and because the tenants usually don't challenge them (the complexes have teams of lawyers).  But an individual landlord in this state must show exactly what damages he has suffered (by physical damage to the unit and by monetary damage losing rent, unpaid utilities, etc.) to collect this amount or even be able to keep the security deposit.  Many landlords bluff this and try to collect.  If the tenant signs off on it, then it is an agreement to pay it.  Thus you may be able to ask for a nominal amount that you know she will agree to.  But if the tenant decides to challenge it...(you will lose in court).  You cannot have her forfeit the deposit.  (Not legal.)

In this state, she can break that lease by just giving you 30 days notice.  You will be able to keep money from her security deposit for actual damages beyond wear and tear on the apt., for the 30 days if she fails to give that much notice, for the period of time that you are unable to get it rerented (up to one or two months maximum), and for any unpaid utilities she owes you for or that you will be charged for if she fails to pay it (like the water bill).  This will, of course, be more than the deposit unless you are able to rerent it very quickly.  You must take her to court to recover the rest and courts here will only give you one or two months of lost rent, no matter how long it takes you to rent it again.  For this reason I would let her go quickly.  You will be able to rerent the unit during the summer fairly easily I would think.  Once school starts, it may be harder.  Good luck.

Posts: 137
Reply with quote  #3 
I can shorten this..Furniture doesn't ift? It isn't your fault is it? Nope so tough luck legally. Secondly noie, make complaints, and is it even some thing you can solve? If not tough luck legally.

Basically the tenant has no legal leg to stand on from the sounds of it, so it is really up to you, do you think the tenant will stay 1 year if you tell them you wont let them out of lease? do you think there's going to be rough road ahead from the tenant if you don't? That's all for you to figure out, but keep in mind from what you've said your in the right and the tenant at least will owe rent until the place is re-rented plus re-renting fees.

sounds like a "waaabulance" excuse least the sick family in another state is semi decent (yet probably given numerous times). DO what you wish, but know that by the sounds of it you have the leg to stand on, not the tenant.

Posts: 3,809
Reply with quote  #4 
Kurt always goes straight to the point.  I dance around it trying to state things in just the right way.  You just go very blunt and straight forward.  That's what I like about you Kurt.  And I love that line, "waaabulance" excuse!  LOL    I'll have to remember that.  I hear those all the time!

And while you are right that the tenant doesn't have a leg to stand on, we both know that you can't make a tenant stay.  No contract can.  If that girl wants out, she'll leave no matter what you say.  Better to have that vacancy in summer than in November.  We both know how hard it is to rent in the midwest just before the holidays and through winter.
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