Broke the lease - now what?

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Submitted by speaker on September 8, 2013 - 6:57pm

I signed a 1 yr lease back in April 2013, but I am getting ready to close escrow at the end of the month on my first house. I rent from a property management company and I already informed them I was vacating the property. It looks like we found a replacement tenant to occupy the townhome almost as soon as I leave. Therefore, there will be no disruption in rental income. Even better, the new tenant will pay more than what I currently pay based on my marketing campaign prior to the property management company putting out their listing. The property management company said I could break the lease, but I would be responsible for any loss in rental income plus a marketing fee (30% of one month's rent.)

My question to all of you is, am I off the hook? Is there anything else in the way of damages that the property management company or the owner can sue me over? It stands to reason that if there is no disruption in rental income, successfully negotiated a higher monthly rate, and I pay the bogus marketing fee then there is no damage to anyone.

Thanks in advance for your input and/or advice.

Submitted by spdrun on September 8, 2013 - 7:07pm.

Tell them to take the marketing fee out of your deposit, return the balance, and get them to sign something that payment was received in full and that you will be responsible for no further charges stemming from the rental of the unit at 543 Goatrunner Lane, Oceancity, CA 92563.

Submitted by speaker on September 8, 2013 - 10:17pm.

Thanks for your input. I presume your response is to cover me against the property management from coming after me. But what about the landlord/owner? How should I protect myself from him?

Submitted by SD Realtor on September 9, 2013 - 7:37am.

All you need to do is thoroughly review whatever agreement you signed (presumably the lease) when you first acquired the place you are renting. There usually are some sorts of provisions in there for breaking the lease.

You should also do everything in writing. If there are additional requirements that are not specified in the lease get it down in writing. For instance if this 30% fee is not called out in the lease, make sure it is in writing. That includes the method of how it is paid, whether it is deducted from the deposit or not.

Don't worry about the "who" you need to be protected from, worry about the documentation as that is what obligates you. You are not obligated by any more, or any less then what is on the document, regardless of whether the party is the owner of the property or the landlord. Relying on anything verbal is a bad idea.

Submitted by thejq on September 9, 2013 - 7:57pm.

Since it's the PM you're dealing with, I'm assuming you've signed the standard lease form by CAR. It states that "in the event of termination by Tenant prior to completion of the original term of the Agreement, Tenant shall also be responsible for lost Rent, rental commissions, advertising expenses and painting costs necessary to ready Premises for re-rental. Landlord may withhold any such amounts from Tenant’s security deposit." So legally neither the PM nor the owner can go after you unless you damaged the rental that costs more than the deposit to fix. Also since you've advertised and found the new tenant, the PM should not charge you the 30% either. I think it's just an excuse to get some money from you. If you've shown good faith and got everything in writing, there's no need to worry.

Submitted by paramount on September 9, 2013 - 10:09pm.

Remember though, the tenant/OP does not own the property - any new tenant really needs to go through the PM.

On what legal authority does the OP have the right to rent out a property he/she does not own (and not the owners agent)?

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