We broke a 2 year lease contract after 2 months. Early termination clause was vague. Before signing landlord clarified it in email saying give him 60 day notice. Now landlord wants 120 days notice instead because he can't find anyone to take over rent because it's a slow time of year after school started.
Does the email from landlord at the time of preparing the contract count if it wasn't put in the contract? Should we pay 120 days notice instead or go to court. It is in San Jose CA.
Generally, the terms of the contract control. Generally, leases contain a clause that says modifications must be in writing and signed by both parties. An e-mail exchange might not satisfy that clause. A lawyer would need to read the lease and the e-mail exchange to determine the best course of action.
Agreed with the above. Contacts are usually read within the four corners of the document. The resolution that is probably the best for all involved is for you to allow the landlord to try to rent the apartment and cooperate in this process. The sooner he gets it rented the sooner you are no longer liable for rent. If you can avoid moving out before it is rented, that’s best of course.
Otherwise, you may be in for some litigation costs and risk.
If the lease agreement itself is not clear as to what happens if the tenant unilaterally terminates the lease early, the email is insufficient to change the terms of the lease agreement. In such a situation, the landlord and the tenant must come to an agreement regarding the lease termination and memorialize the agreement in a document called a lease termination agreement. Otherwise, the tenant could potentially remain liable to pay rent for the remainining duration of the lease, subject to the landlord's duty to mitigate damages by finding a replacement tenant. It is much better to reach an agreement than to "go to court".
Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended nor should be construed as legal advice for any particular case or client. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney. This posting is not intended to constitute an advertisement nor a solicitation.
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