Is an email agreement enough to end a lease?
December 25, 2018 2:51 PM   Subscribe

We have an apartment lease in NJ that is up in the summer, but I would like to move before then and landlord’s brother is moving to town and asked if we wanted to move out early so he could get the apartment. Over email (a few weeks back) we hashed out details of the remaining rent payments (we stay until March 7, pay March pro rated, don’t pay remainder of lease, and security deposit is handled normally.)

He informed the maintenance company and said they would handle it further. I contacted them and asked if there is anything to sign, and he said there would be once he has everything done with the brother.

I haven’t heard back, and if this goes like it does for getting maintence done I’m not convinced I’ll get the paperwork.

Should I be concerned that I don’t have signed paperwork to this effect? If the brother changes plans and doesn’t want apartment, but we are ready to move I don’t want to suddenly be held liable for the rest of the lease. Would this potentially involve going to court to not have to pay, and would the email hold up as proof that we won’t have to pay?

(We pay by auto withdrawal from checking account.)
posted by ridogi to Law & Government (6 answers total)
 
I mean we can’t tell you if you trust this guy or not.

If I liked and trusted my landlord I wouldn’t worry about it, personally. But if my landlord generally seemed skeevy and adversarial over the course of my relationship with them, I would make a hard push for legit paperwork.

So trust your gut, is my advice.
posted by SaltySalticid at 3:56 PM on December 25, 2018 [3 favorites]


A sufficiently explicit email *from the landlord* would probably be sufficient, but not *from the landlord's brother*.

Also, as always, you must weigh your legal rights against the cost of enforcing your legal rights.
posted by praemunire at 4:33 PM on December 25, 2018 [7 favorites]


Email is from the landlord.
posted by ridogi at 4:50 PM on December 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


I would probably send a confirmation email at around the 30 or 60 day mark. Whichever matches how many days notice you are required to provide.
I would reply to their last email and say.. “I am confirming that per this agreement we are vacating the premises as of March 7 and are ending our lease without penalty by mutual agreement.”
I would also state how you expect the security to be returned. You say “handled normally “ but what does that mean?
posted by calgirl at 11:01 PM on December 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


Set the terms of the agreement as you understand it (including when your deposit will be returned) in a physical letter, sign it and send it to the landlord by mail, at whatever address the lease provides for in its notice clause, asking for written and signed confirmation on paper to be returned to you by mail. Or send it to the management company and CC: the landlord if you are supposed to be communicating with them primarily.

Now, not later.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:25 AM on December 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


We sent a certified letter, cc’d via email to landlord and maintenance company saying we need the terms written and signed and gave them until Jan 7, which is 2 months before our move out. It also say if we don’t have it by the 7th then we will stay until the end of the lease as written.
posted by ridogi at 5:44 AM on December 27, 2018


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