#1 Edited by EpicSteve (6487 posts) -

Videogame forums are bad for legal advice, but I figured since a lot of Giant Bomb duders probably rent apartments you all might have some stories.

I live in Cincinnati. I got a job in Chicago on very short notice (this job may or may not have to do with videogames).

I payed a security deposit a few months ago and signed a lease to rent an apartment in Cincinnati. Move in date is August 1st. I asked to break the lease and even offered to leave my security deposit, and that I'm open up to a deal.

I'm in the military and will transfer to a unit in Illinois. There are laws that allow soldiers to bail from a lease without question if called to Active Duty. However, the military isn't the cause of my move.

He's threatening legal action against me. I signed a contract, I get that.

To be clear, I do not live in this apartment right now.

Has anyone had any experience like this?

UPDATE: Landlord isn't allowing me to sublease and doesn't want to take a deal that involves me just giving him my security deposit and two month's rent in exchange for me just bailing. Despite me finding several people willing to take up the apartment. I'm using military legal assets.

I kinda don't have a choice here, this job is a really fantastic opportunity in the game industry. But I might lose a lot of money in the process.

#2 Edited by HeyGuys (393 posts) -

Have you tried finding someone to sublet the apartment to? That could solve your problem with less fuss than going to court or dealing with this difficult landlord.

#3 Posted by D4RKSH33P (59 posts) -

I'm not sure if there is a similar service in Ohio, but when we had a small renting mishap we used a free referral service through the local bar association. Check out your state bar association website or if you live in a big city they might have their own.

#4 Posted by EpicSteve (6487 posts) -

@heyguys said:

Have you tried finding someone to sublet the apartment to? That could solve your problem with less fuss than going to court or dealing with this difficult landlord.

That's my goal. But this job wants me to move asap. So it'll be hard for me to coordinate it. Not that I'm not willing to do it.

#5 Edited by Tennmuerti (8100 posts) -

What is the termination clause in your lease? That's kind of the most important part.

Also you should not have offered shit, that looks like you are bargaining from a position of weakness, now he is just likely twisting your arm for more.

#6 Posted by Razorlution (186 posts) -

Depending on the length of your lease, I assume 6 months or 1 yr. Its pretty straightforward, you must abide to the lease agreement. Even offering 2 months plus security deposit will not fulfill the legal commitment you made. Although you may be able to find another renter to take over for the lease, it still locked to you, until its signed over.

#7 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

Videogame forums are bad for legal advice

Isn't there that one user who explained copyright law in a blog series? And he (predictably) had Phoenix Wright as his avatar?

#8 Posted by Bobby_The_Great (1004 posts) -

I know in Texas, you can break a lease agreement by paying an early termination fee, which is essentially what you are doing tenfold.

#9 Posted by Jimbo (9809 posts) -

Read said contract and see what your termination options are, if any? Maybe casually mention that you have served your country and he might be less inclined to be an asshole about it.

#10 Posted by Nightriff (5079 posts) -

I bet there is a early termination fee that you could pay.

Otherwise get someone to sign the lease over to ASAP, bargain with them, not your landlord.

#11 Posted by LawGamer (207 posts) -

@video_game_king: Speak of the devil and he shall appear.

I don't practice in Ohio, and I'm also not a landlord-tenant guy. What I can tell you is this is not a question you can answer without the exact language of your lease agreement. If it allows you to break lease, you can break lease. If it doesn't, you're probably stuck.

As someone else suggested above, most state bar websites have a lawyer referral service. A landlord-tenant lawyer should be able to tell you pretty quickly what your options are.

#12 Posted by Popogeejo (615 posts) -

Does the military not have people you could consult that aren't teens and twenty somethings on the internet?

#13 Posted by EpicSteve (6487 posts) -

I bet there is a early termination fee that you could pay.

Otherwise get someone to sign the lease over to ASAP, bargain with them, not your landlord.

My lease doesn't allow early separation. Just that if I leave, I'm responsible for the rent payments until the end of the contract.

#14 Edited by CornBREDX (5266 posts) -

First off, do not give your landlord any benefit of the doubt. They will fuck you over in a heart beat and they are not your friend. They don't care if you're in the military or not.

Second, suing you is dependent on your lease. You should always read any contract, lease, or renters agreement you sign. Read everything you sign, really. I've broken a few leases, but mine were military reasons so they couldn't do shit (and they were pissed about it). There is usually some kind of buyout, but other than that you are legally obligated to fulfill your contract/lease/renters agreement. They probably will take you to court otherwise. Your security deposit does not cover you breaking your lease, nor does paying last months rent up front.

The importance of this is it will make it difficult for you to find a place to live in the future and can also affect your credit rating.

I recommend reading your lease and talking to a lawyer as the laws are different everywhere so the specifics of your problem will be localized to you.

Also I am not a lawyer and know little to nothing about the law.

Sorry I couldn't be of better help.

Online
#15 Posted by HeyGuys (393 posts) -

@popogeejo: They might be able to refer you to someone but a military lawyer probably isn't going to know all the specifics of contract law. Military law is super, super different from civilian law.

#16 Posted by SovietBear (1 posts) -

You definitely need to look at your termination requirements. For example, if I want to terminate my contract early, I'm responsible for whatever is left on my lease up to 3 months. I know some places I've rented from had their termination fees set for whatever you had left on your lease (They were gonna get the money from you whether you lived there a year or not).

Since you're not leaving because of military reasons, I think it's going to be much harder to get out of.

#17 Posted by crithon (3193 posts) -

hmmmm, I broke my lease 2 times.... and no one threaten to sue, they just told me "Well we have to make you pay extra" and it's normally like a month's worth of rent. I just broke my lease just last month, and it was payment to "find another person to rent the apartment." and it's close to a month's rent a bit much. They were able to find a person to find the apt in less then a week, and they are taking a month's worth. Still I'm moving somewhere cheaper.

#18 Posted by DetectiveSpecial (466 posts) -

As someone who lives in Chicago and has rented many a shitty unit here, at the very least be assured that the City of Chicago does not fuck around with landlords, contract be damned. They always side with the tenant. So you are moving to a better place. Welcome, and I hope Ohio doesn't bone you too hard on this one.

I am not a lawyer, but I'll speak from past experience - check your contract regarding what constitutes "date of action". I had a lease (in Chicago, so who knows) that was only fully binding AFTER you physically occupied the premises.

Also, in Chicago, there are stipulations that can break a lease agreement - most notably if some aspect of the building isn't up to code. As there is no single building in Chicago that isn't cutting corners somewhere, this is most often used as a roundabout way to get out of a lease. See which city office is in charge of rental properties (if there is one) and find out what types of violations can break a lease agreement. Then find out if your friendly sounding landlord is breaking any of them. Then report him to the city.

#19 Posted by Fattony12000 (7408 posts) -
#20 Posted by FinnianWhitefir (15 posts) -

Not sure if it's by state or federal, but normally they cannot charge you while the apartment is occupied. So worst case scenario, you move out, keep paying rent, and in 1-2 months they fill the apartment and you don't pay any more. You have legal recourse if they take too long and you want to claim they have not made a good faith effort to rent it.

You signed a contract saying that you'd pay them for a year, so if there is not anything in the contract for early temination, your options are:

1. Move and keep paying until they rent it.

2. Make them an offer, I.E. "I'll pay you three month's rent right now today and we'll break the contract". Make sure to get it signed and on paper.

3. Disappear. Don't do this. Especially as you can be screwed in the military for bad credit.

#21 Posted by TheHBK (5484 posts) -

@nightriff said:

I bet there is a early termination fee that you could pay.

Otherwise get someone to sign the lease over to ASAP, bargain with them, not your landlord.

My lease doesn't allow early separation. Just that if I leave, I'm responsible for the rent payments until the end of the contract.

OK, you gonna need more info. First try to find someone who is willing to take over the lease and sign for it. Who is this landlord? Is it a big apartment company that owns the place or just some dude? So just try your best at it. And if he wants to sue, fuck him, let him sue. The amount he is threatening you for is too large for small claims court and if he wants it, he is gonna have to lawyer up and it probably isn't worth the effort. Might be fucked up but you gotta look out for numero uno. And as Big Sexy Kevin Nash would say, it's just business.

#22 Posted by horseman6 (393 posts) -

Like Finnian said, the top two options are your best choice. The landlord cannot have you pay a full years rent if they find a new person to rent it out to. See if they will accept some kind of offer and explain the situation; he sounds like a jerk so I don't know if he'll accept a compromise.

In Ohio, according to http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/tenants-right-break-rental-lease-ohio.html, if you break your lease and move out, the landlord can't just sue for 12 months worth of rental fees. He must attempt to find a new tenant and provide proof to the court that he did so. Keep in mind that I am not a lawyer so do not take my advice as golden.

#23 Edited by xyzygy (9983 posts) -

Find a subletter or someone to take over your lease. I'm not sure if you can do that in the States but here in Canada you can.

#24 Posted by SgtSphynx (1385 posts) -
#25 Edited by Hamst3r (4483 posts) -
You know what to do.

#26 Posted by boatorious (62 posts) -
#27 Posted by HatKing (5946 posts) -

I had experience with this, in fact I was already moved in, but my landlord wasn't an ass. She realized sometimes things are weird and plans - life - changes rapidly, without notice. I got to break the lease no problem, and she may have even split the security deposit with me or refunded it (it's been nearly a decade and I don't remember the specifics). Anyway, I knew at the time that she didn't owe me shit and appealed to her good nature. I was pretty young, and I'm sure it didn't hurt that I was clean and payed what rent I was there for early, and I think she went easy on me.

I'm not sure there's anything you can actually do, legally. I'd try to appeal to the person's good nature. And if worse comes to worse, you could always sublet. It's not ideal, but it's better than paying rent for a place you don't live in.

#28 Posted by me3639 (1756 posts) -

No legal action is necessary but you will have to pay the amount of the lease.

#29 Posted by Cerberus3Dog (336 posts) -

Try to find a sublet is my advice. Not that you are in fault here, but to get on his good side maybe apologize to your landlord and ask for help finding a sublet using the apartment complex's resources.

#31 Posted by MB (12387 posts) -

@thehbk said:

@epicsteve said:

@nightriff said:

I bet there is a early termination fee that you could pay.

Otherwise get someone to sign the lease over to ASAP, bargain with them, not your landlord.

My lease doesn't allow early separation. Just that if I leave, I'm responsible for the rent payments until the end of the contract.

OK, you gonna need more info. First try to find someone who is willing to take over the lease and sign for it. Who is this landlord? Is it a big apartment company that owns the place or just some dude? So just try your best at it. And if he wants to sue, fuck him, let him sue. The amount he is threatening you for is too large for small claims court and if he wants it, he is gonna have to lawyer up and it probably isn't worth the effort. Might be fucked up but you gotta look out for numero uno. And as Big Sexy Kevin Nash would say, it's just business.

The problem with that advice is that the landlord can just use a collection agency and then the entire amount is going on his credit report as debt, and will probably show as an eviction as well. Not a good idea.

Moderator
#32 Posted by CorruptedEvil (3246 posts) -

I have no clue how anything works legally in the US, but won't the military provide a lawyer if you need one?

Online
#33 Posted by MB (12387 posts) -

I have no clue how anything works legally in the US, but won't the military provide a lawyer if you need one?

The JAG office will provide attorneys, however since he didn't get orders to move and is instead moving for a civilian job and not doing a Permanent Change of Station, he is not protected under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. The military part is sort of irrelevant here.

There is really no way around this other than paying his way out of the lease (either partially or fully), or getting his own attorney and seeing what can be done there.

Moderator
#34 Edited by ripelivejam (3946 posts) -
#35 Edited by dudeglove (7841 posts) -

Sublet or pay up. You signed a legally-binding document. Yes it sucks, but it is the law.

e: and yes I've had shitty experiences with independent landlords as well as scumbag letting/flathunting agencies. After renting multiple flats in multiple countries for over a decade, it does suck pretty much everywhere. In an ideal world, your landlord would take the security deposit and put it into a separate account and then return it to you with interest. Funnily enough they don't, because they need to get that money as soon as possible to offset, say, their son's gambling debts or other shit they're in banks with. In an ideal world landlords wouldn't show up unannounced or "forget" to pay utility bills, even though your contract specifically says that it's included in your rent. In an ideal world, city legislation wouldn't grossly restrict housing development in places like, say, Paris, meaning the renting market is absolutely in favor of the landlord and people effectively have to "audition" or bribe to rent a goddam 30 sq meter piece of shit. In an ideal world, everyone would read their contracts before signing them.

#36 Posted by adam1808 (1496 posts) -

If you agree with your landlord to pay a fee for leaving your lease, then a new contract is formed which replaces the old one. They can't rely on the old contract if you create a new legal relationship.

If that's not an option, I'd just tell you to pay the rent until the end of the lease or sublet it. Credit and debt collection agencies are much more of a big deal in the US than they are in the rest of the world and I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

#37 Posted by SinGulaR (2306 posts) -

Weird law you have there in the U.S. If you rent an apartement here in Germany you can cancel your contract anytime provided you message it 3 months in advance with an written request for termination. Most rental contracts are basically the same here and bound to law very strictly.

#38 Posted by billymagnum (824 posts) -

sorry man, but this is exactly why there was a contract to be signed. to make it not ok for people to bail. they have every right to sue you because you signed that contract. *shrug*

#39 Posted by Sweep (8858 posts) -

@singular said:

Weird law you have there in the U.S. If you rent an apartement here in Germany you can cancel your contract anytime provided you message it 3 months in advance with an written request for termination. Most rental contracts are basically the same here and bound to law very strictly.

Depends how you're doing it, though. Some people rent by the building, others by the room. If you're the lead tenant and you're living along then yeah, you're fucked. It shouldn't be too hard to sublet the room and pass the buck over to a new person, though. Depends if it's a private contract or you went through an agency, I guess. Either way, you should be able to get some fairly straightforward legal council without too much hassle.

Moderator
#40 Edited by MonkeyKing1969 (2772 posts) -

Contact the Ohio Military/Veterans Legal Assistance Project (OMVLAP) for assistance. [1-877-759-6182
Toll Free]. They have volunteer lawyers that can help you do this correctly, so that if he does sue you a judge will glare at this landlord for being an ass to you. You might lose you deposit, that depends of Ohio rental laws, ...but hey you move with peace of mind.

#41 Posted by EpicSteve (6487 posts) -

@sweep said:

@singular said:

Weird law you have there in the U.S. If you rent an apartement here in Germany you can cancel your contract anytime provided you message it 3 months in advance with an written request for termination. Most rental contracts are basically the same here and bound to law very strictly.

Depends how you're doing it, though. Some people rent by the building, others by the room. If you're the lead tenant and you're living along then yeah, you're fucked. It shouldn't be too hard to sublet the room and pass the buck over to a new person, though. Depends if it's a private contract or you went through an agency, I guess. Either way, you should be able to get some fairly straightforward legal council without too much hassle.

I posted an ad for the apartment and had two responses in 15 minutes. My landlord is refusing to allow me to pass the apartment to someone I don't personally know.