Getting out of my apt and rent?
October 2, 2006 4:32 PM   Subscribe

Landlord fun: am I completely screwed?

So I found a new apartment I like today (October 2nd). Gave my verbal agreement to rent it starting in November. Called my old landlord... according to the terms of my lease (which is lapsed and on month-to-month) I had to give notice "at the end of a succesive term by giving 30 days written notice, in advance". Since I did not do this, he wants October AND November's rent, and won't accept the security deposit for either. I can't see a way to pay 2 months of rent on this place AND a month plus a month's-rent-of-security deposit on the new place. Am I totally screwed? Do I have any recourse? This is in Maine, btw... looking at the Maine renter's laws it doesn't look too good.
posted by selfnoise to Work & Money (15 answers total)
it's one extra month's rent....

I don't know if one month's rent = totally screwed.

Just pay the two months rent at the first place, get your security deposit back, and use it for the security deposit on the second place.

Also, you shouldn't have to pay november's rent until the end of october, (30 days still holds true), so you have three weeks to get the cash together.
posted by hatsix at 4:48 PM on October 2, 2006

What a jerk that guy is; so what if you gave 29 days' notice instead of 30? Why won't he take the security deposit? Did he not plan on refunding it to you even if you were to leave during an agreed upon time? This would seem to be a good situation for HIM since he would have one month to clean and refurbish and find just the right tenant without losing any money. I think the spirit behind the giving of 30 days notice is that what you're giving is one month's notice -- which is essentially what you did since today is Monday. Can you try to find a new tenant for him?
posted by Lockjaw at 4:53 PM on October 2, 2006

Ouch. Is this landlord the type that will find every pinhole and charge you $10 for each one? (That's illegal here in WA, but the landlords all do it anyway...but I digress.) Or do you expect to get your security deposit back?

Perhaps you can get the landlord to do your move-out inspection at the end of October, and then settle with them the difference between what they should give back to you and a month's rent for November, with the understanding that they can also rent your place ASAP. To them this means that they have the entire month of November to find a new renter while the apartment is still "paid for," and for you it means eating the deposit plus whatever extra money is needed to cover November. This still is better than coming up with three month's rent on Nov. 1. This won't help if the landlord isn't going to give you back any money from the deposit.

On preview: Lockjaw and I think alike. To lockjaw's horror, no doubt.
posted by maxwelton at 5:00 PM on October 2, 2006

Can you sublet the place for november?

Also, make sure he doesn't double-up. He might be in legal right to collect november's rent; however, he is probably not in the right to get your november rent and then rent it november 1st or 15th, essentially getting paid twice for the second half of the month, which is probably his plan.

effing landlords.
posted by milarepa at 5:13 PM on October 2, 2006

IANAL -- according to § 14.13 "Remember, if you have a verbal lease you must give the landlord a full 30 days' notice in writing from the day the rent is due before leaving the apartment. (14 M.R.S.A. § 6002. However, you and the landlord can waive in writing this 30 day notice requirement.)"

This seems rather vague as to whether you would be obligated to pay the rent due to fulfill the 30 day period (ie, one or two day's rent) or whether you would be responsible for the rent until the next due date that falls outside of thirty days (which would be December 1).

Not accepting the security deposit as a months payment (of course they are not required to but they are required to inform you in writing of the account in which your deposit is being held within 30 days of receiving deposit) is a common ploy in North Carolina by which landlords then attempt to keep your entire deposit, whether they are allowed to or not. In NC the landlord must submit an itemised bill for any amount of the deposit not returned, though in practice this hardly ever happens.

I am not familiar with the Maine laws (I read them briefly but not comprehensively). In NC the amount of time of notice required varies according to the duration of the lease agreement -- one year lease, 30 days; one month lease -- 7 days. Maybe Maine is like this as well, though from what I've read of the law, It doesn't really seem likely.

What about a compromise option? Find another tenant to take up the lease when you leave at the end of October. Unless the landlord is a real asshole, he will be happy enough to have a new tenant to let you off.

Plus, technically, if you deliver him a letter today, you are in the 30 days (if the rent is due on the first, not by the first).
posted by headless at 5:15 PM on October 2, 2006

Also, I suggest you call his bluff.

I wouldn't expect some guy like this to willingly return your security deposit. Sounds like a bigtime jerk.

You should consider just vacating the place november 1st, counting your security gone and not providing november's rent. Get it in writing that you gave 29 days notice and make him come after you for november's rent in the courts.

Are there any damages he can collect besides one month's rent if you do this? I don't think so, but maybe someone else knows, or knows why this is not a good idea. He is being pretty unreasonable.

You might want to consider giving 45 days notice and paying through november 15th. Don't know how things work in maine though.
posted by milarepa at 5:20 PM on October 2, 2006

hatsix: when i was renting apartments, i usually didn't have an extra months rent lying about...especially if i had to provide a deposit for a new place.

your landlord is being a dick. your notice was reasonable under the circumstances--after all, 10/1 was a sunday. if this ever made it to court, and there weren't any other considerations, i think you might be able to win.

what i'd advise is to proceed with your plans to move out 11/1. once you have done so, it's up to him to legally prove charges against your security deposit. he will probably take it, but i think that if you were the plantiff, and you explained the situation, you would probably get a fair chunk of it back. if not, you're out the security deposit. he can try to sue you for the last month's rent, too--but would it be worth it to him? probably not.

your landlord is mainly pissed because it's really hard ot rent apartments in november-janurary. if you give him notice, and he sits on his ass, it'll bode better for you, as well.

he might go a bit easier on you in the back end. i was in an identical situation a few years back. when i turned over the apartment, the guy ended up cutting me a check for 1/2 of the deposit. not what i wanted, but a bit better then $0.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 5:23 PM on October 2, 2006

I will continue my same tune from the tenant-landlord question earlier today, and numerous ones earlier than that:


This is a negotiation. You made an opening bid. The landlord countered with a big, fat, high bid in response. Now you're posting to Metafilter, asking "Am I screwed?" Just because someone wants something, doesn't mean you have to give it to him. You've probably said no to panhandlers. You should also say no to landlords who attempt to cheat you.

You do not say whether you have paid October's rent or not. If you have, you're sort of screwed - he's going to keep your security deposit (that's his real goal - to steal your security deposit). He's going to claim he's owed it for November's rent, and then the "possession is 9/10ths of the law" will be in his favor - he'll have the money, and it will cost too much for you to get it back.

If you haven't paid for October, and you don't, then you won't be screwed. The security deposit will be October's rent, and at the end of October you can leave free and clear, neither owing nor owed any money.

In any case, if you're sure of your new apartment, you should go ahead and provide written notice to the landlord.
posted by jellicle at 5:31 PM on October 2, 2006

What a jerk that guy is; so what if you gave 29 days' notice instead of 30?

I don't think it's clear that the poster gave only 29 days' notice. If you include today, there are in fact 30 days between Oct 2 and Nov 1.

Obviously, however, the way law counts those days is likely the important thing if you're going to split that kind of hair, and I can't tell you if counting the day notice is given fits that.
posted by weston at 5:32 PM on October 2, 2006

I'm not familiar with Maine but in most jurisdiction, tenant regulations are in reality much more enforceable against landlords than against tenants. Landlords have to go to a lot of trouble to sue tenants and recover any lost rent, and usually don't bother. You can kiss that reference from your landlord goodbye though, if you care about it.

What is the rental market like there? Perhaps you could find a replacement tenant yourself, with a small discount on the first month's rent. That way you recoup most of your overlapping cost.
posted by randomstriker at 6:15 PM on October 2, 2006

IANAL - but some of the advice above is bad.

Much of what happens will depend on your relationship with the landlord and your ability to leverage your current status with both your current and new rental arrangement.

If your landlord is an individual then you maybe able to work out some type of agreement.

Consider this option:

Have your landlord take 30-days notice verbally from the time you notified him and have him pro-rate your rent.

Pro: You get out of your lease without paying for an extra 30 day's rent. Con: You pay some overlap between your current and future place (a few days?)

If your "landlord" is some sort of incorporated entity - perhaps one which owns multiple properties and rents to hundreds or thousands of people then you may be in a tighter situation. Often these types of corporations have no problems pursuing you through legal channels. They have their own lawyers and routinely spend time in court.

Much of this hinges on the "at the end of a successive term" language which as someone pointed out above could mean that you must give 30-days notice at the end (or beginning?) of the month and thus are liable for the 30 days (one month) rent plus the current (previous?) month. As my question marks point out this is fairly ambiguous and ingenious language used to bully the non-legalise speaking public.

Someone pointed out that you could sublet your apartment. This is the optimal solution in most places but since you're "month to month" now you probably could only sublet your place for the remainder of the month (month + 30 day notice period?!?) which is an unattractive venture for most people looking to rent an apartment for anything more than a few months. (Alternatively, if your apartment is in a tourist friendly area you could advertise it on Craig's List as a weekly alternative to a hotel and perhaps recoup some of your money.)

[Subletting takes work: I just sublet my one bedroom, vintage Lincoln Park (popular neighborhood in Chicago) apartment after two weeks and showing it a dozen times. I advertised on Craig's List.]

Ultimately the safe way out of this is to give notice and look for a new place similar to the one you found. You've given a verbal agreement - but that's pretty non-binding in this case. You can either blow off your potential landlord (they are probably used to renters - particularly "potential renters" - being flaky) or explain the situation in the hopes that they will work out some sort of arrangement with you.

As for your deposit - well that ultimately comes down to local renter laws. Here in Chicago they have to give it back to plus interest and they can't charge for repainting the walls or other minor maintenance after you move out. (Which is why many places are switching over to "non refundable" deposits which are a fraction of your first month's rent - but you kiss it goodbye.)
posted by wfrgms at 8:23 PM on October 2, 2006

Roll the dice and do as you planned-- move out, don't pay the Nov rent. He's not going to come after you, because he's going to be busy finding a tenant, and once he finds a tenant, he won't be able to come after you.

I am not a lawyer. But I am a landlord (in Maine) and this guy's just trying to get everything. Don't give it to him.
posted by miss tea at 4:57 AM on October 3, 2006

Why can't you give the requried 30 days notice and be liable for one month and one day in rent? Can you not pay rent for a partial month?
posted by dg at 6:04 AM on October 3, 2006

sort of like subletting, you could just find someone to move in for a new lease, to replace you. Any reasonable landlord would accept this, since the concern is lost rent after you move out until he finds a replacement.
I'm kind of with everyone else (taking wfrgms' advice that if this is a corporation all bets are off) that you make the landlord a counteroffer of suck my dick, but you will lose your deposit.
posted by alkupe at 6:15 AM on October 3, 2006

Technically, you have not given enough notice here. Your landlord won't accept the security deposit (in advance) for them because he is afraid that you will trash the place on the way out and he won't be able to pay for repairs with the deposit.

However, if you don't pay Nov's rent, and just move out, I guarantee that the landlord will apply your security deposit to that. He will also most likely do his best to run up a bill of repairs to exceed the deposit, and send you a notice seeking several hundred dollars.

As has been mentioned above, this is a negotiation. Your landlord is just trying to cover his butt. Do your best to ensure that there is nothing for him to complain about - clean the place spotless, keep it nice and tidy for showing to potential renters, etc. I would also help out by posting notices for the empty apartment at my school or workplace. Also, make it clear that you will be moving out before Nov. 1. If the landlord gets a tenant for that time period, he is usually obligated to refund your rent (no double-dipping). If you provide a suitable (i.e. creditworthy) tenant, the landlord is usually obligated to accept him or at least not demand the rent from you. If you can get this guy a few people before Nov. 1, he's much more likely to just rent it and let you move out.
posted by MrZero at 7:30 AM on October 3, 2006

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