Is there anything I can do if I my landlord refuses to let me out of the lease? 3 Answers as of June 20, 2013

I'm aware that getting out of your lease is pretty hard. But some things have come up that have me hoping that I can. I will explain my situation in hopes of someone at least can point me in the right direction. First off, I signed the lease being told they would help me sublease my apartment after the semester was over. I was aware I was going to have to move and inquired specifically about this. I even researched online and read policy about this. When it came time for me to start the process a month or two in advance, management completely denied any oral agreements. After much arguing on my point, the management actually admitted to me that they had let people go for telling people wrong things. If I am not mistaken, this is admitting fault? To further my predicament, I was then told there would be a $500 subletting fee if I could find someone to replace me. When looking in my lease, it says subleasing isn't even allowed. Under further inspection, in very small print it says that the process is up to management. So, I inquired and there was an unofficial form with no mentioning of any fee. As I continued on my quest to get out of my lease, I was continually sexually harassed by an employee, of which they eventually fired when they thought I would finally be able to have enough proof. The air conditioner continually broke, and maintenance would rarely come to fix it. Luckily, one of my roommates' dad's did this for a living and helped us out. I didn't believe this could do anything as there were only a few maintenance requests, but let me know if I was mistaken. Finally, and mildly unrelated, I was able, or I thought, to go and find someone on Craigslist. They agreed, via email, and there are several text messages saying they were filling out the paperwork and that they received it when my manager sent it. They stopped answering my texts and never contacted me again.

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Law Office of Jared Altman
Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
The written lease controls.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 6/20/2013
Park Law Offices LLC | Kevin Parks
You are in a bit of a pickle, no doubt. I've helped clients get out of their lease before, but it's never easy (or cheap), and ultimately is usually only successful if you can convince the landlord to agree to terminate the lease, which happens only rarely. First, the oral agreements aren't likely going to be enough. The lease you signed almost certainly has language that prevents anything other than written modifications, and further it will have language that states, essentially, it is the deal, the whole deal, and nothing but the deal, despite what the oral agreement may have been. Getting to another result, then, is difficult as it's very hard to prove and very time intensive/lengthy to get there. That someone was fired for telling you the wrong things may help a bit, in that it may help evidence what information you relied on when signing the lease, but it ultimately isn't likely to change anything too much. As for the actual availability of subletting, most places do state that they won't allow them at all. You and the landlord can agree to modify that, of course, but often the landlord won't do it at all, or will only do it with some sort of penalty fee. Others that do allow subletting, then, almost always charge some sort of nominal fee. $500 is a bit high, I suppose, but it's not crazy-astronomical. The sexual harassment bit, then, is rather unrelated to the lease itself, and isn't directly going to help you get out of it. If you have evidence of charges and report it, or have enough evidence for a tort action (for which you should definitely contact an attorney), then you may be able to (and should, perhaps?) pursue that. Again, those aren't necessarily going to result with the termination of your lease, but if they are valid claims, you could have a bit more leverage in dealing with them, generally. You're right on on the maintenance issues. If they're stonewalling you to this point, it's likely because they only have a few maintenance requests that you submitted, etc., and regardless the result of them failing to make necessary repairs wouldn't be letting you out of the lease. At the end of the day, if your lease is for a year and you move out early and abandon the property, they have to mitigate their damages, which means that they have to rent it to someone else. So you likely won't end up getting charged for all the months remaining (or you shouldn't get charged for them all, at least.) Sometimes it helps for a tenant to retain an attorney to deal with the landlord, as landlords are generally more receptive to attorneys than they are to tenants, but then again sometimes it doesn't help at all.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 1/4/2012
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