My previous apartment complex is trying to withhold my deposit on the premise that I broke my lease one month early. I was under the impression that I had signed a one year contract which would have ended June 18 2015 (as I moved in on June 18 2014), but according to them i signed a 13 month lease. None the less, I went to the offices around April to give my 60 days notice, to let them know I was leaving at the end of my lease. When I did this the apartment counsel was happy to help and provided me with a form that I needed to fill out (which i still have). And on this form it had a specific tab for the end of lease where I put June 18 2015. The worker signed off on it and I thought everything was taken care of. I left the apartment as clean as I could leave it (dedicated 2 days to cleaning and obtained a pressurized vacuum cleaner to clean carpet) but unfortunately they are trying to take that away. None the less while waiting for the deposit, I receive a letter stating that I actually owe money to them. If i fill out a form where I'm asked when is the end of my lease and I put the supposed wrong date aren't they suppose to inform me. Any advice would be appreciated.
13-month lease terms are hardly uncommon. More Landlords are abandoning the standard 12-month term in order to stagger occupancy and vacancy dates, so their make-ready crews are not overburdened. So, initially, I'm not surprised there was a 13-month term. But of course this begs the obvious question: what does your Lease say?
And regarding the landlord's obligation to assist you, there is none. If you walked in the management office to tell them you need to vacate by June 18, they furnished you a blank form where you wrote in "June 18," then I see no duty of the landlord to advise you that in doing so you will breach your Lease. As a legally competent adult, you are charged with the duty of understanding the contracts you signed and the laws that govern your conduct.
Sorry, tough answer I suspect. I feel your pain. Take a look at your Lease and I'll wager that at least the term and notice provisions will be answered.
AVVO is a general forum for discussion purposes only. My answers, comments, ideas, approvals and endorsements do not constitute legal advice, opinions or even suggestions, as I do not have enough facts and you are not my client. As well, my response is with respect to only the laws of the State of Texas. Hire an attorney in your location if you want assistance upon which you may rely.
I really have to agree with Stuart on this one. More and more these days 13 month leases are becoming common and the new norm. Also, as Stuart said, the landlord has no duty to advise you as to the terms of the lease. Furthermore, the fact that you put down a wrong date on the form doesn't raise a duty in the landlord either. However, that form will cut both ways. On the one hand, an employee of the landlord signed off on it, so there may be an argument that he or she "endorsed" that date as the end of the lease and therefore the landlord is estopped from declaring otherwise. In other words, you and the employee entered into an "amendment" to the lease and changed its terms. However, equally the landlord will argue that you should have had knowledge of the lease terms and your voluntarily putting the wrong date on the form is evidence of your intent to break the lease. So the form is really good for both of your cases, and that probably means it will be a wash help neither of you.
The only thing in your question that I saw that has some merit is your claim that they are trying to bill you for cleaning charges. They have the right to either collect the last month's rent or charge you a breach of lease fee, and they have a right to charge you for cleaning too. However, if you adequately cleaned the apartment and they are still trying to overcharge you, then that might be a place you have some wiggle room. Most apartment complexes are fairly easy to negotiate with and will be happy to reduce those charges if you show them you are willing to put up a fight. I've had several conversations with these businesses as an attorney and as a customer and they usually will drop some of the fees if you complain and show them you have the time, money and energy to fight it in Court, or that you are willing to give them a really bad review on some websites or both. Generally they want to keep customers happy while squeezing as much money out of them as possible. So, remember they are doing a delicate dance. Legally, they can probably charge you every single fee that they have charged you. However, from a business stand point, it doesn't make sense to make a couple hundred dollars at the expense of bad press that could cost a couple thousand in the long run.
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