Breach of Rental Lease?

Breach of Rental Lease? Our apartment lease states that 30 days notice is required for moving out and that the notice must be given at the end of the month (the latter information is buried and is stated in legalese). We gave 30 days notice, but not at the end of the month, so we were charged a relet fee and rent for the remainder of the month that we moved out.
Before giving notice, I called to make sure that our notice was sufficient, and there was no mention of the relet fee and paying rent. Were they obligated to inform me since I had asked before giving notice? Do I have to pay all this money?
It seems unfair; like a big business vs. little person situation. On what grounds can I appeal?

One thought on “Breach of Rental Lease?

  1. Where a written lease is involved, the terms of the lease govern as long as they do not violate some statutory or other legal precept. The requirement that a tenant provide 30 days notice to terminate a lease is a fairly standard term that is typically enforceable as written. Where the contract states, as it often does, that the notice must be given at the end of the month, that is typically understood to mean that a notice which is given in any other day of the month will be effective as if it had been given at the end of the month. That is, the 30 days of the notice begin to run at the end of the month in which it was given and end at the end of the month subsequent to when the notice was given. Hence, it would appear that in your case, the landlord was entitled to collect a fee “for the remainder of the month” in which you moved out.

    On the question of whether the landlord was obligated to inform you of the terms of the lease when you asked before moving out, the court would most likely hold that he was not. You should have been provided with a copy of the lease at its inception, but you are presumed to be aware of the terms of the contract when you sign it. The law does not place a duty upon the landlord to explain to you those terms contained in the lease. Consequently, the fact that he/she did not mention the fees you would owe when you asked about the sufficiency of the notice would not, in and of itself, free you from the obligations spelled out in the lease.

    Of course, if the court were to find that the landlord actively misrepresented the terms of the lease agreement, for instance by stating that a notice given any day of the month is sufficient to terminate the lease 30 days from the notice date, then the court could rule that a modification of the lease agreement was effectuated, and that the terms of the modification governed termination, regardless of the language of the written lease. The facts as you relate them, however, do not seem to support such a finding, so the most likely outcome as to the fee “for the remainder of the month” is that you would be held responsible for its payment.

    You mention that the landlord also “charged a relet fee” in addition to collecting the fee “for the remainder of the month.” Unless some other express provision in the lease entitled the landlord to charge such a relet fee, the landlord would not be justified in doing so on the basis of the 30 day notice requirement. Thus, on the facts you present, you should not have been obligated to pay such relet fee.

    Xavier Chavez
    Xavier Law Firm
    9595 Six Pines Drive
    The Woodlands, TX 77380

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