Help me work this out with my landlord

Okay, I live in a “Student Centered Apartment Community” here at school. My lease is through July 31.

Back in January, the property manager dropped off a letter at each apartment stating that if we signed a new lease for the following year, we’d get a reduced rate. My girlfriend and I decided to look at other living options, but kept this place as an option. When I paid our rent, the manager asked me what I plans were, and I told her that we were looking around but undecided.

A couple days later, an Intent to Vacate form was slid under our door. The next time I went to the office, the PM asked about it, and I told her that we were still looking around, but were 75% sure we would be moving out.

Fast forward to two weeks ago: I go to pay rent, and I tell the PM that as soon as we find out if we are approved for another apartment, we’ll get the Intent to Vacate form back to her. She tells me that our apartment is already rented out to someone else for next year.

I was a little upset, but we ended up getting approved at a better complex anyways. Here is where the problem comes in.

At the new complex, if we move in on or before May 1, we get two months free rent, but have a 14 month lease. Not too shabby, since by 6-30-05 my SO an I should both have our degrees and be looking for new jobs anyways. We decided to do this, and are moving in on the 28th of this month (yay!).

Now, we do have an overlap of one month where we’ll be paying two rents, but only living in one apartment. According to our PM, the only way out of this is to sublet our apartment. This isn’t easy around here; very few students stay for the summer, and this is a bit expensive.

Our lease says nothing about early termination. My dad, who cosigned on this apartment, is, for lack of a better word, pissed. The way he sees it, there is no written policy regarding early termination, and they rented out our apartment without telling us first. He wants us to be able to get out of (at least) that last month of rent. I’m not sure this is a good idea, or just a waste of time.

So, should we talk to a lawyer and see what options are available to us? Or should we just suck up the $615 dollars/month plus the electric bill?


Most importantly: Where do you live? Rental laws vary widely state to state. Look up your state’s attorney general’s office, generally they’ll have the rental laws for your state on the web.

As a semi-wag, you’re hosed. See, the point of a lease is that you agreed to pay rent for x months. In many states, (NJ for example) the landlord can hold you to the full term of the lease, unless the property is in some way unlivable. That your lease doesn’t contain an early termination clause means nothing. Generally, such a clause would enable you to pay a fee (usually one or more months rent) and give a certain amount of notice (30 days or more) to cancel your lease.

All of this comes by way of my training as a leasing agent (former) in NJ, but applies more or less to MD and PA and probably many other states as well.

Sorry, but thems the breaks.

Note, you may be able to recover some loss by subletting your place at a discount, but be wary of losing your security deposit if they trash the place.

Good Luck,


(my first post as a paying customer)

Thanks, tdc. I kinda figured that. As for my location, I’m in Michigan. One of my friends is a lawyer, maybe I’ll talk to her and see if she knows anyone that deals with this kind of stuff.

Thanks, tdc. I kinda figured that. As for my location, I’m in Michigan. One of my friends is a lawyer, maybe I’ll talk to her and see if she knows anyone that deals with this kind of stuff, and knows the particulars of our laws here. I’m guessing that I am, indeed, hosed.

Yup, you’re probably screwed on the rent, but do have to have the electric on during that month since you won’t be there? Why not just turn the electric off once you’ve moved?

When are the new tenants moving in? If you are paying for that last months rent, they better not be moving in until your lease is really up. If the PM had some plans to let them move in early and get a double dip on the rent, you have a definite case - as long as you are paying rent, the apartment is yours and not someone elses. If they are planning on moving in early, you should be able to work something out with the PM.

Otherwise, depending on the laws of your state, you’re probably stuck. If the lease says you’ll pay for a certain term, that’s what you have to do. The presumption is that if an early termination is not spelled out in the lease, it doesn’t exist.