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Breaking a rental contract? (month to month lease)

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  • Breaking a rental contract? (month to month lease)

    So me and my boyfriend were looking for a house to rent. His cousin told us that the house next door to them should be going up for rent again, because the tenants just moved out. We got all the owners info form the cousin and decided to call. The rent is $1200 deposit is $1000. We walked the property with a friend/handyman of the owners. We liked what we saw. We filled out applications to rent. They excepted. They gave us a rental contract that had all the info filled in on it for us, so we just had to sign. So we signed it, but the lease does not start tell Febuary 1st (its January 9th, today) Its a month to month lease, and we havent givin them any money yet. Me and my boyfriend have had some car trouble since the signing and dont have all the money the want (1st, last, and deposit) to give to them by the first, and we are having second thoughts about a month to month.

    Can we get out of this? Can we break the lease? We have not givin them any money, no final walk threw, no keys have been handed over, and there still working on the house from when the last tenants moved out. Please any advise would help. Thanks

  • #2
    re: Breaking a rental contract? (month to month lease)

    Review your lease and see if it has any terms that may support you and in any case ask the landlord to work something out--many will do something for you in medical situations or other emergencies...if there are any problems you could try to point those out as reasons for leaving as well; finally most landlords actually will not sue for the amounts owing after a broken lease, though they may try to report it to your credit agency; you are only liable until they re-rent it in any case so if you can find someone to take it, that may also help...

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    • #3
      Re: Breaking a rental contract? (month to month lease)

      HELP! I have a mo-to-mo person sharing my house. We each have private living areas. He has not been working, hasn't paid me rent since mid-May (he was paying on a weekly basis) and told me almost a week ago that he didn't know when he would be returning to work but, even so, he wouldn't be able to pay me any back-rent. He said he could move out by this week-end if that's what I wanted. Well, after talking it over with family members I decided to let him move out with no repercussions. I called him where he's stay, left a detailed message, and asked for the keys back. I told him that if I didn't get keys back soon, I would change the locks. (I live in the house, too, and didn't want him just coming in whenever he wanted to since he opted to leave). Well, I didn't get the keys back so, yes, I changed the locks. He went ballistic and now is saying he'll take this matter to court and draw it out for 6 months if he has to. ??? Where do I stand?
      Thanks for any advice.

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      • #4
        Re: Breaking a rental contract? (month to month lease)

        You should not have changed the locks. He is a tenant (although a non-paying one.) Changing the locks was illegal. You were supposed to have given him written notice to vacate. There are two forms of this notice you could have given him. 1) You could have given him a Pay or Quit notice (or Quit notice depending on your state.) This is a notice for non-payment and is the shorter of the two notices. Or 2) you could have given him a written notice to vacate simply because he was had no lease. You can ask a m2m tenant to vacate at any time for no reason.

        The length of these notices depends on your state. Please list your state. When these notices expired, if he had not vacated, you needed to file to evict him. You cannot just change the locks.

        If he wanted to leave, you should have gotten this in writing too. Then when he didn't leave or return the keys, you could have filed for eviction then.

        If I were you, I'd try to smooth this over (because he can sue you!) Tell him this was a misunderstanding. Let him know you thought he was moving out. See if you can get him to agree to move out. If not and he is still angry, give him a copy of the key now. That way you are not blocking his access to his quarters. Then proceed to follow the law by providing him the required legal notice, and filing to evict if he doesn't leave.

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        • #5
          Re: Breaking a rental contract? (month to month lease)

          Originally posted by dhinfl View Post
          HELP! I have a mo-to-mo person sharing my house. We each have private living areas. He has not been working, hasn't paid me rent since mid-May (he was paying on a weekly basis) and told me almost a week ago that he didn't know when he would be returning to work but, even so, he wouldn't be able to pay me any back-rent. He said he could move out by this week-end if that's what I wanted. Well, after talking it over with family members I decided to let him move out with no repercussions. I called him where he's stay, left a detailed message, and asked for the keys back. I told him that if I didn't get keys back soon, I would change the locks. (I live in the house, too, and didn't want him just coming in whenever he wanted to since he opted to leave). Well, I didn't get the keys back so, yes, I changed the locks. He went ballistic and now is saying he'll take this matter to court and draw it out for 6 months if he has to. ??? Where do I stand?
          Thanks for any advice.
          What you did was a BIG NO NO! It's called an illegal lockout because you did not follow the proper legal procedures to evict him prior to changing locks.

          While I understand that you felt you needed closure on the situation, the renter never actually moved out or gave you written notice of his intent to do so. Until he did so, or you received a court order to lock him out through an eviction, the law still recognizes his right to come and go as he chooses. By depriving him of his right of entry, you illegally evicted him. Most states will allow for severe penalties against LLs who do that, which include monetary penalties.

          How can you rectify this now? First of all, you can give him the keys to the new locks or remove them and put the old ones back on. You will probably need to entirely waive that past due rent owed for May and June as well (depending on the state, an illegal lockout warrants a pentalty of at least 1 month's rent OR MORE). Then, sit down with him and realistically determine whether you both want to continue his tenancy. If not, get him to sign a written notice acknowledging a firm move out date. If he won't sign one, be prepared with an eviction notice of your own (notice to terminate tenancy) of your own. (NOTE: if you make it a Pay or Quit, you're looking at trouble - just terminate).

          If you are unsure on how to proceed, I suggest you hire an attorney to handle this matter to avoid any further missteps and liability on your part.
          "If it ain't in writing, it never happened."
          "A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."
          "You can never make the same mistake twice, because the second time you make it, it's not a mistake, but a CHOICE."

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