If you are thinking of breaking your lease it is imperative that you read the article below entitled “Breaking a Lease can Entail Steep Costs.”
Please find below a list of move out tips and notices that we HAVE personally delivered to your homes. Most of your questions and concerns should be answered here. If you do not find an answer please contact us.
– Robert Griswold
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Answers are provided by Robert Griswold, a property manager certified by the Institute of Real Estate Management and author of “Property Management for Dummies”; and lawyers Steven R. Kellman, director of the Tenants Legal Center, and Ted Smith, principal in a firm representing landlords.
Q: I have a lease that runs for nearly eight more months. I needed to break my lease because I was laid off from my job.
My landlord has re-rented the flat to another tenant, who will move in the day after I leave. My landlord rented the flat for $130 less per month, and he is trying to collect the difference from my $3,900 security deposit for the rest of the lease, 7 1/2 months, or $975.
I know I owe him for the costs of re-renting the flat, but according to the lease and the Civil Code, it says he can’t collect double rent. Can he do this?
Landlords’ attorney Smith replies: When tenants break their leases, they are responsible for rent for the balance of the term.
As the landlord’s attorney, I am going to give the landlord the benefit of the doubt on the facts.
It appears that $130 per month on the shortfall is the best he could do in the present market at the time of your move out.
Consider the landlord’s dilemma. He could hold out for the same rate or higher. This could take some time. Or, as here, he could re-rent the unit immediately for $130 a month less.
If the landlord can prove that was the best rent he could get, then you’re going to be responsible for the difference.
Holding you responsible for the shortfall is not collecting double rent.
Q: I am two months into a one-year lease agreement in a rental house.
I recently was given an opportunity to change my career. However, the job change meant moving to another firm more than 45 miles away.
I spoke with my landlord before I accepted the job and asked if he would be willing to work with me regarding getting out of the lease.
I suggested a three-month notice and that I would pay any expenses he may incur, and I also proposed that he keep my entire $500 security deposit.
He said we could work something out, so the next day I accepted the job. Later that same day, I received a call from my landlord advising me that he was going to require me to fulfill the full terms of the lease.
Is there any way I can get out of the lease due to a change in my career in another city?
I am even willing to give a six-month notice and pay further expenses.
Smith replies: I’m afraid not. Your job transfer is not legal justification for your breach of lease. The landlord can hold you to the term.
California law requires the landlord to mitigate damages, that is, make a diligent effort to market the property to qualified replacement tenants.
Such efforts include advertising, listing, showing and posting signs.
As long as the landlord can show proper diligence, you will be held responsible for the vacancy factor, together with advertising expenses and administration costs.
Hopefully, the landlord will be successful in releasing the property so that your liability can be minimized.
Questions can be submitted to Rental Roundtable, Real Estate Section, San Francisco Chronicle, 901 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94103, or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Every year on May 25 we find a group or two that have been caught off guard when it comes time to move and clean. I remember hearing “we’ve been cleaning all day” from a group that was behind. In fact, they had been MOVING all day. Moving and cleaning are two totally different things.
There is quite a bit of information here. However, it is important information. If you take the time to read it, you won’t get caught off guard yourselves. Read it carefully, as we are telling you up front how to MAXIMIZE the return of your Security Deposit.
This is a busy time of year. You have finals, friends, family and summer on your minds. If you want to have a great summer (not your parents screaming at you about security deposits) you need to allow time to clean and move too.
Management companies will do whatever they can to keep your deposit, and you will have to fight to get it back.
Your deposit is held to pay for any damages (financial or physical) that you cause, and we would like NOTHING better than to give it all back!!
In fact, if you read through all of this material, follow the instructions, and don’t have any outstanding balances owing, you will be very happy with the check that is returned to you.
However, you get out what you put in. If you wait until the last minute or expect that you can move and clean 12 months worth of dust and fingerprints in an afternoon, you will be disappointed.
On the following pages you will find helpful lists of things that will make your cleaning easier, as well as tips as to what, and how much to clean. We even go as far as to tell you what other people have missed, so you won’t.
Cleaning product hint: Miracle cleaners, like “scrubbing bubbles” and “toilet ducks” rarely work. You will get more done, in less time, and for less money if you purchase tried and true products, such as: Comet cleanser, 409, bleach, and Windex brand glass cleaner.
These cleaners are also inexpensive, so purchase enough that three people cleaning in different rooms aren’t sharing one bottle of 409.
*TIME – To play it extra safe, budget 4 hours of cleaning (real hard scrubbing, taking things to the dump, not “planning”) for each month you have lived in your home.
You can not expect to move and clean your home, no matter how much help you have, in one day. If you are going to successfully clean your home, you need to have a game plan BEFORE the day you move. While you can’t clean everything weeks in advance, you can get started.
WARNING: Do not get oven cleaner on ANYTHING but the inside of the oven. It will eat through paint and discolor chrome and plastic. Read the directions carefully!
DO NOT move appliances. If it is necessary, WE will clean under the stove. This is MUCH cheaper than paying for a damaged kitchen floor.
Bedrooms and Common Rooms:
Outside (yards and parking area)
Your home was equipped with them when you moved in, they had batteries, and were working. If you have removed them, replace them, and the batteries.
This year, we replaced EVERY screen on EVERY property we own. If you have bent one, removed one, or torn one, have it fixed before we do. It will be less expensive for you to take the screen to a glass shop, than it will be for us to call out our contractor.
The locks and latches on your home’s doors (including bedrooms) are part of a very elaborate company wide key system. If you have replaced any locks with those of your own, we STRONGLY suggest that you put the company locks back on the doors before you leave. Locksmithing is VERY expensive. We use (and will accept) only Kwikset brand locks.
Your yard, and any storage areas must be left as clean and ready as the rest of your home. Moving includes ALL areas of the property. Any items left behind that are clearly not “trash” will be removed and stored (for a daily fee) off-site.
The trash company will ONLY pick up items placed in a dumpster or trash barrel. If you have “extra” trash piled around the dumpster or trash barrels, it will be removed at an extra cost by our contractors. The trash company will NOT pick up couches, tires, beds, or large items. If we have to remove these items, we charge for them.
Here are some rates:
If you have installed an extra phone line, network, cable, dsl or other line, remove it before you go. If these devices were installed by a professional, you may leave them.
If there is a non-running or un-registered vehicle on the premises at the end of your lease, it will be towed at your expense the day we take the property back.
To: All Tenants – PLEASE POST
RE: Moving, Lease-end and Security Deposits
Over the last few weeks we have been showing your houses, and several of you have asked the same questions. For those that haven’t, here are the answers anyway:
“When will I get my security deposit back?”
“Where will you send it?”
“What if I didn’t break it?”
We will not allow any holding over (staying beyond your lease term). Your lease expiration date is in your lease. You were aware of this date when you signed the lease, and we can not make extensions for any reason. We have many homes to work through, clean and make ready for the next tenants that are expecting to move in on a specified date. We are reminding you WELL IN ADVANCE that if you are graduating, having a party etc., and “just can’t be out”, that you have no choice. Our crews will be entering and making repairs and cleaning for the next residents starting at 9:00am on the day your lease expires. Please make plans NOW to be out at the end of your lease.
You ARE ready to get cleaning aren’t you?