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Early Lease Break Fee Not In Lease, But Mgmt Insists on Enforcing It Anyway?

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sandyclaus

Senior Member
What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Virginia

Question for someone else (not me).

Tenant has lived in an apartment complex for 6 months, and finds they need to break the lease due to a job relocation out of state. Scheduled move-out date is Feb 28. They were able to find a suitable replacement tenant who has been approved by management, and the new tenant is scheduled to move in on March 1st.

Over the last several months, the property management company changed, as have their leases to new tenants. Tenant's CURRENT lease does not include any mention of a lease break fee, but new leases issued by the new management company now include a fee (equal to one month's rent). Even though the tenant still is covered under their original lease, the management is insisting that the departing tenant must pay a lease break fee before they will extend a lease to the new tenants.

After going back and forth, and informing management that to withhold extending a new lease solely to try to force them to pay a fee that isn't included in their lease would be illegal, management then caved in and issued the new lease to the replacement tenant. Management realizes that the lease break fee isn't stated in the original lease, but they are still insisting that the departing tenant pay that lease break fee. In doing so, they are now quoting a section of the ORIGINAL lease that states the following in order to support their demand:

"Rules and Regulations. Tenant shall abide by any rules and regulations adopted by Landlord applicable to the dwelling unit and the premises, including any and all updated, and any rules of any property or homeowner, or similar association in which the dwelling unit is located."

In MY opinion, such a clause would be unenforceable. It's so vague and ambiguous that management could basically add ANY clause to their new leases, and never even notify the tenants of such a change - then have an unfair advantage of enforcing said unspoken clause upon their exit. Isn't the point of a lease to have a set of terms that both parties are agreed upon? Since that clause doesn't include any kind of notification requirement, it's like the LL saying they can make up the rules as they go along, and the tenants have no choice but to comply. That just seems patently unfair to me.

Does anyone else think that this NEW term in a NEW lease can successfully be applied to the departing tenant under the old lease?
 

BL

Senior Member
What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Virginia

Question for someone else (not me).

Tenant has lived in an apartment complex for 6 months, and finds they need to break the lease due to a job relocation out of state. Scheduled move-out date is Feb 28. They were able to find a suitable replacement tenant who has been approved by management, and the new tenant is scheduled to move in on March 1st.

Over the last several months, the property management company changed, as have their leases to new tenants. Tenant's CURRENT lease does not include any mention of a lease break fee, but new leases issued by the new management company now include a fee (equal to one month's rent). Even though the tenant still is covered under their original lease, the management is insisting that the departing tenant must pay a lease break fee before they will extend a lease to the new tenants.

After going back and forth, and informing management that to withhold extending a new lease solely to try to force them to pay a fee that isn't included in their lease would be illegal, management then caved in and issued the new lease to the replacement tenant. Management realizes that the lease break fee isn't stated in the original lease, but they are still insisting that the departing tenant pay that lease break fee. In doing so, they are now quoting a section of the ORIGINAL lease that states the following in order to support their demand:

"Rules and Regulations. Tenant shall abide by any rules and regulations adopted by Landlord applicable to the dwelling unit and the premises, including any and all updated, and any rules of any property or homeowner, or similar association in which the dwelling unit is located."

In MY opinion, such a clause would be unenforceable. It's so vague and ambiguous that management could basically add ANY clause to their new leases, and never even notify the tenants of such a change - then have an unfair advantage of enforcing said unspoken clause upon their exit. Isn't the point of a lease to have a set of terms that both parties are agreed upon? Since that clause doesn't include any kind of notification requirement, it's like the LL saying they can make up the rules as they go along, and the tenants have no choice but to comply. That just seems patently unfair to me.

Does anyone else think that this NEW term in a NEW lease can successfully be applied to the departing tenant under the old lease?
I generally would agree it should not be enforcable .

However I do not read that it is prohibited.

I would let them take me to court and let the court decide.

http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+TOC55000000013000020000000

Two chapters .

55-248.7 Terms and conditions of rental agreement; copy for tenant; accounting of rental payments

55-248.9 Prohibited provisions in rental agreements

NOTE: I don't see this as resonable though .
So I would fight it.
Another chapter.


55-248.17 Rules and regulations
 
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sandyclaus

Senior Member
I generally would agree it should not be enforcable .

However I do not read that it is prohibited.

I would let them take me to court and let the court decide.

http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+TOC55000000013000020000000

Two chapters .

55-248.7 Terms and conditions of rental agreement; copy for tenant; accounting of rental payments

55-248.9 Prohibited provisions in rental agreements

NOTE: I don't see this as resonable though .
So I would fight it.
Another chapter.


55-248.17 Rules and regulations
Excellent. That last section pretty much does it. They NEVER gave notice to any of the current tenants under existing leases when new "rules and regulations" were adopted to include that lease break fee. A(6) and B of that section is right on point here.

Thank you so much!
 

BL

Senior Member
Excellent. That last section pretty much does it. They NEVER gave notice to any of the current tenants under existing leases when new "rules and regulations" were adopted to include that lease break fee. A(6) and B of that section is right on point here.

Thank you so much!
Well managment / LL is relying on an existing rule during signing .

There is a section of weather it is reasonable for them to make that clause any unilateral rule they create enforcable ,and I don't think their reasoning will fly .

I'd shoot the a responce letter citing these chapters and their contents and let them know a court will decide ,not them,if need be.

Just have to watch out for the devious of reporting to CRA's ,then having to try and dispute the entries.
 

HomeGuru

Senior Member
I would agree that the lease break fee can be argued as unenforceable but management can still charge for certain items relative to finding a new tenant such as advertising, admin fee etc. when a lease is broken.
A similar clause should be in the lease agreement or allowed by law. Sort of a penalty for breaking the lease.
 

sandyclaus

Senior Member
I would agree that the lease break fee can be argued as unenforceable but management can still charge for certain items relative to finding a new tenant such as advertising, admin fee etc. when a lease is broken.
A similar clause should be in the lease agreement or allowed by law. Sort of a penalty for breaking the lease.
Can they? Sure. However, in this particular situation to which I refer, the replacement tenant was found by the departing tenant, and presented to management as such. The LL isn't asking for admin fees for the lease break. They are presenting this as being "cheaper than having to pay the lease until it expires" - which ALSO wouldn't apply, because of the fact that there wouldn't be ANY gap in the tenancy (no lost rent), as the new tenant would take immediate occupancy.
 

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