Moving without much notice to landlord
February 25, 2009 7:02 PM   Subscribe

I have a verbal month-to-month lease in Chicago, IL (there is no signed paper lease). I want to move out by March 1st (a few days from now). So there will be no 30 days' notice possible. What happens in this situation, with the deposit, etc? (more inside) and how do I deal with the landlord?

The landlord took one month security deposit when I moved in, and never had me sign a paper lease.

Now I need to move with just a few days' notice, so I can get the new place March 1st. I want to make sure everything happens by the book, and that I know what I'm talking about when dealing with the landlord.

I'm planning on calling him tomorrow to let him know what's going on.

I'm expecting that he will be allowed to keep that one month security deposit as payment for the next month, since I didn't give 30 days notice. Then if he finds any flaws with the apartment (needing new paint?) he will bill me for that stuff.

Is this pretty accurate? Anything else I should expect from him?

Is there any danger of him trying to evict me or changing the locks on me tomorrow when I tell him this?
posted by white light to Law & Government (11 answers total)
He can't lock you out or evict you. He has to give you 30 days notice as well if he wants you out.
He won't be happy that you're leaving, but there's not much he can do except try to get you to pay for next month.
posted by lee at 7:26 PM on February 25, 2009

If you're expecting that he will keep the one month security deposit anyway, why not give him thirty-day notice, move out on March 1st, and just pay the extra month's rent? When you get your deposit back it amounts to the same financial damages either way, and you leave with a little bit of extra goodwill (and he may decide to be a bit less onerous with what he considers a billable "flaw"),
posted by Phire at 7:51 PM on February 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm suspecting he'll keep the deposit as March rent if I do move out without notice, and that he'll give it back if i move out *with* notice.

I can't afford to pay March rent here if I'm also paying rent on the new place for March.
posted by white light at 7:59 PM on February 25, 2009

You're opening yourself up for a small-claims court suit here, because like one of the above posters said, the landlord has the right to keep your security deposit as outstanding rent for the last month, and then on top of that there is a likelihood that they may decide to punish you via charges for things like paint, carpet cleaning, etc.

If you end up in small claims court and you moved out without notice, you will have a weak case. Plus, if you move out without notice, you now have a poor reference on your record for future apartment hunting.

If it is at all possible, the preferable way to do this is to beg or borrow the money to pay the rent for the next month. During that time, you could try to sublet it out for part of the time, or advertise for someone to take over for you.
posted by zhivota at 8:08 PM on February 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

I suspect you're probably going to end up paying parallel rent for one month. It's a bitch, but that's how it goes.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:09 PM on February 25, 2009

I've heard sometimes that landlords charge late fees in situations like this--they can just assume that the security deposit will cover the unpaid last month's rent but they don't have to. Just another danger to watch out for. A lot depends on how your landlord wants to respond.
posted by overglow at 8:43 PM on February 25, 2009

What is the rental market like in Chicago? Can your landlord rent it immediately on listing or is he unlikely to get a new tenant in before the 1st April?
posted by metahawk at 9:50 PM on February 25, 2009

In better economic times I solved a similar situation to this by offering to help the landlord find a new tenant. Which I did via a post on craigslist. I'm not so optimistic that would work these days, though (not knowing where you are either).

You definitely should tell you landlord and I think you need to be prepared to pay the rent. It sucks, but either you or him is going to end up losing that money, and I don't think you have the high ground with 3 days notice.
posted by malphigian at 9:53 PM on February 25, 2009

You want to violate a contract. What happens is that you open yourself up to the sanctions specified by the contract, as well as damages caused by your nonperformance. Your question boils down to, "how can I get out of my contractual obligation?" The only way to do so without possible consequences is to ask to be released.

Call the landlord, explain the situation, offer to pay half the month's rent and see if they'll accept that. You might also see if you can move into your new place on the 15th, instead and try to get both landlords to accept pay pro-rated rent for the month.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:28 AM on February 26, 2009

Or see if you can make the rental period on the new place the 15th to the 15th rather than the 1st to the 1st. I resolved a similar situation that way once, too.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:31 AM on February 26, 2009

Just want to provide a little detail--the way the general principles above have worked out in the leases I've had are that the immediate sanctions are late fees, and since failure to provide notice of termination is an eventuality provided for in the contract the damages are specified--a month's rent. So, the most direct answer based on my experiences is that the worst case scenario presented above is quite likely. IANAL, but you could easily wind up on the hook for the full month's rent, plus a late fee, and then lose most of the deposit--or more if they can claim you caused more damage to the unit than the deposit covers. The landlord can go get a judgment against you for $(amount of deposit - [one months rent + late fee + damages]). I saw it play out exactly that way a few times during and after college as various groups friends moved around.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:06 PM on February 26, 2009

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