can an apartment community hold me to signed lease before it is in effect and before I take possession?

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can an apartment community hold me to signed lease before it is in effect and before I take possession?

Signed lease after renting unit, and cancelled the next day. The lease starts next month and we haven’t paid deposit, taken keys, possession of the apartment or anything. The apartment is trying to charge 60 days rent for cancelling. Is this legal?

Asked on April 18, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Actually, if it was the typical one-year lease, they can potentially charge you up to whole year's rent (i.e. rent for the entire length of the lease), unless the lease itself provides for a lesser cancellation fee, so if they are charging you for 60 days, you are likely coming out ahead of what could have happened. 
You are wrong when you say you cancelled "before it is in effect": the lease takes effect IMMEDIATELY UPON SIGNING. Once you sign, you are obligated to the lease; that is, to the *entire* term or duration of the lease. Taking possession is irrelevant; the lease gives you the *right* to possession, but whether you do or do not take possession, or when you do, is your business, not the landlord's. People rent units and spend some, most, or even all of their time elsewhere; possession does not affect your contractual obligations (since that is what a lease is: a contract) from signing the lease.


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