Need help convincing my landlord to accept a shortened notice to vacate my apartment.
November 21, 2005 10:40 PM   Subscribe

Need help convincing my landlord to accept a shortened notice to vacate my apartment.

I forgot to give 28 days notice for plans to vacate my rented apartment and now I need to convince my landlord to accept a shortened notice of two weeks instead. I'm putting this to him in an email that will be sent and interpreted to him via the property's agent and would like to know what tact I should employ with my approach.

History: I've been renting this apartment for almost two years now. Never had any major problems and have been a good tenant. I still feel, though, that this email is really make or break for me. I mean it may end up costing me over $500 if it doesn't work out. Worried!

Anyway, with my email, how do I come across firm, fair and ultimately conscious of the fact that this puts my landlord in an unsatisfactory business position? Yes, I think it's fair to say that I should forget about counting on human emotion to favour my cause (e.g. sympathy and so on). Um, what options do I have left?
posted by sjvilla79 to Writing & Language (20 answers total)
You just forgot to give that 28 days notice?
posted by Dean Keaton at 10:41 PM on November 21, 2005

Response by poster: You just forgot to give that 28 days notice?

Yes, there were other factors involved not relevant to my question however. I guess you could say I was preoccupied. Do you not understand my question, Dean?
posted by sjvilla79 at 10:46 PM on November 21, 2005

Best answer: None, short of begging and pleading. It's not a matter of an unsatisfactory business position, it's a matter of you breaking the contract you signed, and him having rights under that contract that you agreed to.

Other options: Find a tenant that can move in immediately, withhold your last month's rent illegally if you haven't already paid it so that you are "evicted" and don't need to give any notice, steal copper wire or various appliances to make up for the $500, take him to your local housing tribunal for the most trivial thing you can think of and hope he settles instead of going through the hassle. Other than finding another tenant, these options are bad. Hit craigslist!
posted by loquax at 10:51 PM on November 21, 2005

Best answer: I wouldn't recommend this if you want to use this person as a reference, but I once managed to get out of a lease with less than a week's notice after my significant other left (she'd been paying half the rent) and my working hours were cut by 1/3 by putting down a deposit on another apartment and then telling my landlord (it happened to be the truth) that, with my deposit, I could pay my first month's rent at the other apartment and get out, and that otherwise I could afford neither the move nor the rent and that they would have to evict me. In this particular state a challenged eviction takes 90 days, and I was convincing in intimating that they would receive no money from me during that time.

Unless you're actually facing similar financial circumstances I think this would count as fucking over the landlord, which you may or may not want to do.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 10:55 PM on November 21, 2005

loquax's suggestion of offering a new tenant is a good one, but you can't justify stealing from him, because this is really purely your fault.

I probably wouldn't let you out of it if you were my tenant.
posted by LGCNo6 at 10:56 PM on November 21, 2005

but you can't justify stealing from him, because this is really purely your fault.

I was just kidding about the stealing of copper wire, having watched the Sopranos recently. Don't do it. I suppose if it's life and death, then maybe. But still. And yes, it is purely your fault. The landlord has no obligation to you beyond what is stipulated in your lease and in the laws of your state. Check both of those for any possible loopholes. Perhaps try to arrange a free consultation with a local lawyer to see if there are any other tricks at your disposal.
posted by loquax at 11:00 PM on November 21, 2005

Best answer: And talk to your local housing department/commission/MP/agency/tenant advocacy group, they may have some advice.

Ah Australia - try this for starters. This article discusses breaking a lease in Victoria. Here's some more that you can dig through on

From the leasebreaking article:


If the continuation of the tenancy agreement will cause you severe hardship, you can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for an order that the term of your agreement be reduced. You should ask the Tribunal to hear the case as quickly as possible. You must remain in the property and continue to pay rent as usual, until the hearing has taken place.

To claim hardship, you will have to prove to the Tribunal that:

* there has been an unforeseen change in your circumstances (eg you have lost your job)
* you will suffer severe hardship if the agreement continues
* the hardship you will suffer if the agreement is not ended will be greater than the hardship of the landlord if the agreement is ended

The Tribunal can order that you pay compensation to the landlord for any loss caused by the tenancy agreement being ended early. This often makes a hardship application of little practical advantage, as the landlord may recover the same amount in compensation as they would have received if you simply broke the tenancy agreement.

Breaking a tenancy agreement

Breaking a tenancy agreement can be costly. The landlord can claim compensation for all reasonable costs incurred as a result of your ending the tenancy agreement early. The costs you could be liable for include:

* a reletting fee (usually one or two weeks rent) when the property is let by an agent and the agent charges the landlord a reletting fee for finding new tenants
* advertising costs
* rent until new tenants move in or until the end of the fixed term of the agreement (whichever happens first)

posted by loquax at 11:09 PM on November 21, 2005

I cant see a problem until you find a replacement to the apartment as soon as you leave. Failure to do this will leave the landlord out of pocket.
posted by spooksie at 2:59 AM on November 22, 2005

I got out on three days notice by finding a suitable tenant that would waive all the usual, "I'm here, paint my place back to white for me!" nonsense.
posted by jon_kill at 5:50 AM on November 22, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for all the comments. I have since sent my email. Don't know how this is going to turn out though. Fingers crossed.
posted by sjvilla79 at 5:54 AM on November 22, 2005

Best answer: Sorry to come late to the party, but in case you have any future negotiations, I thought I'd chime in.

Your best bet is to remind the landlord of how long you've been there, and how good of a tenant you've been. Also, plead your poverty. If you tell him that you've already made a deposit and first month's payment somewhere else, and you can't afford to pay him as well, he will eventually give up. He might try to take it out of your security deposit, but there isn't much you can do about that.

At the very least, promise to clean the place spotless. If it is a smaller rental business, offering to help advertise the place might be helpful, too. Finding a replacement tenant is ideal, and just placing an ad on Craigslist or some fliers up at your school might be enough to find someone.

I wouldn't recommend trying to "get your money's worth" from the landlord. Mainly because, if he chose to take you to small claims court, you'll look even worse. Instead of just giving 14 days notice, you'll have also done a bunch of bad stuff. Just shorting notice isn't really that big of a deal, so he probably won't do much more than try to make you feel bad.
posted by MrZero at 6:41 AM on November 22, 2005

Response by poster: MrZero, late guests are always welcome. Here, grab a beer. Appreciate the additional comments too. Yeah, will post an update tomorrow once I know more. Not sure that I want to post my email here just yet though. Um, I did actually do a bit of arse kissing that I'm not entirely proud about. I guess it's all for the cause though.
posted by sjvilla79 at 6:48 AM on November 22, 2005

you left us in the dark - what did you write?
posted by mirileh at 8:58 AM on November 22, 2005

Best answer: I recently bought a house and there is no way I could have done it without the addition of an apartment below the house which we could rent, what I am about to say may seem a little harsh, but here goes...

As a landlord, I would urge you to remember that someone else is trying to put food on the table and cloth themselves in this situation. A tenant, is not just a tenant, they are the keepers of the landlords property and many people, rightfully, are very picky about who they rent too. Which means just finding someone isn't really a viable option.

In my estimation, your negligence should probably cost you some money, but if you have been a good resident he may cut you some kind of break. Just remember, he has entered into a business agreement with you and you have no right to break the contract you signed with him just because you forgot.
posted by stormygrey at 11:20 AM on November 22, 2005

Response by poster: left us in the dark - what did you write?

I wrote a simple proposal. Here it is. Names and business titles have been changed though.
Hi Bob,

Thanks again for our discussion yesterday afternoon. As discussed, this email outlines my proposal for the early vacation of my apartment.

It would see that:

1. I pay the current rent due immediately (from November 10th to December 9th). You may take this out of the 4 weeks rent held in advance if you like.
2. I vacate the premises by this date (December 9th). Note that this is only 11 days prior to if I'd given 28 days notice from today.
3. And lastly that I have the carpet cleaned professionally at my own expense (see lease notes or contact Company XYZ about this).

So looking at my proposal above, Bob, I believe it's an attractive solution. This still leaves me, for example, with 18 days left here from the date of this email. Plus I'm offering to have the carpet steam cleaned too.

Also, I think it's important that I shed some light on how this oversight on my behalf evolved. Sure, I admit I'm at fault, but I'd also say that I was misinformed by the property's old agent during a phone conversation we had earlier this year. I have also just finished my university degree and amid the anxiety and stress of it all didn't foresee the notification thing being an issue. Do I really need to go into more specifics? No, probably not. But I am of course aware that with this request today I'm failing to meet my side of a contract. I feel lousy about it and I hope this doesn't make Company XYZ's job any harder than it needs to be with regard to future prospects for the property. I also hope this doesn't muddy the landlord's view of me as a tenant, for I believe I've done my best at every opportunity to look after the property and value his investment. And, of course, you probably just don't need the hassle.

Lastly, the following items are requested on behalf on my father, John Citizen.

* All payment history for the lease up until the current date (today after final payment).
* A summary of all other balances (e.g. rent in advance amount, bond amount, etc).

Please mail these documents to him at the following address (address withheld).

Bob, thanks for taking the time with my case. Please do your best to convince the landlord that I'm sincere with my request and the circumstances surrounding the issue. I can be contacted via mobile on +61417.XXX.XXX and I look forward to hearing from you at the earliest possible convenience.


Scott Villarosa
The above text was sent in an email last night. I will hear back today if it was successful or not. Um, thanks again for the additional answers. And stormygrey, I agree with your comments. Not harsh at all. Thanks.
posted by sjvilla79 at 4:17 PM on November 22, 2005

I'm sorry to tell you, but your lease is a legally binding document. If it says you need to give notice, then that's what you're held to. I work with rental assistance programs, and the thing we always encounter is that it's not the tenant but the landlord who gets to determine when there'll be an exception.

If you have a good relationship with her/him and can put together a good explanation of why you didn't make the deadline and why you are requesting that she/he make an exception for you, you may save yourself some money. But, in the end, it's the landlord's decision, since you have already agreed to perform certain duties as a tenant. Screwing the landlord over is not going to help you on future efforts to rent a place in the future, but on the other hand, paying out $500 that you don't want to may help you remember in the future.

Hope this all works out for you.
posted by bloggerwench at 6:24 PM on November 22, 2005

sjvilla79, thanks for posting your letter!

and to all the legal sticklers here: the fact that something is legally binding does not mean it isn't negotiable (could be because I worked as a lawyer or have lived in the middle east I see things a bit differently). things change. it's wise for all people (including those with the law on their side) to deal with life as it occurs and not stick rigidly to the letter of a contract or law. a landlord who insists on charging a leaving tenant might find that he is left with a legally binding though uncollectible debt in his favour that he could have avoided. and you never know when the shoe will be on the other foot (a leaving tenant could have justified reasons to sue. i have have seen so many landlords that are negligent about taking care of their property).

sure, he agreed to giving a certain notice. but he missed it. if he was a good tenant and it isn't too much of a hassle a reasonable person would try to meet him halfway. it's always worth it to try.
posted by mirileh at 1:29 AM on November 23, 2005

Response by poster: Um, they rejected my proposal.
posted by sjvilla79 at 7:37 PM on November 23, 2005

Sorry to hear that. Have you tried to find another tenant?
posted by loquax at 7:43 PM on November 23, 2005

Response by poster: No, I've levelled with the fact that there's no real way to squirm out of this one, so I think I'll just spend the extra weeks here and enjoy the space. If I don't do this, though, I'll just drive myself insane trying to get my way. And that's something I really don't need in my life right now. Thanks, loquax.
posted by sjvilla79 at 9:52 PM on November 23, 2005

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