CanI be penalized for cancelling my lease beforeI am a resident and with no payments made at all?

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CanI be penalized for cancelling my lease beforeI am a resident and with no payments made at all?

When applying for a new apartment I signed a lease and an application. I was approved. Move-in date is the 16th. I tried to cancel on the 10th but was told that I can’t. I am going to be forced to pay each months rent until they can find new tenants, just because I was approved. Nowhere on the paper I signed did it say I would be penalized for canceling my lease. Inever even paid a down payment or application fee,; no money is due until the 16th.

Asked on January 11, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Maryland

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you had only applied for the apartment, you would not be liable for the rent; however, you write that you actually signed a lease. A lease is a contract; once a tenant signs a lease, he or she is obligated for the rent due under the lease. There is no right to cancel or terminate the lease unless (1) the landlord breached the lease in some significant way (for example, did not provide you a habitable apartment), or (2) the lease itself provided some mechanism for cancelling (for example, that  it could be cancelled on 30 days notice). Otherwise, once you sign a lease, you are obligated to it, even if you did not yet pay any money.

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you signed a written lease for a term and then decide not to move into the rental and occupy it, you are obligated conractually under the written agreement that you signed. You need to carefully read the written document that you signed in that its terms and conditions control the obligations owed to you by the landlord and vice versa in the absence of conflicting state law.

If you are on a month-to-month lease, I would give written notice to the landlord of your termination of it. If you are not on such a lease, you need to try and sub-lease the unit so you are not responsible for the monthly rent.


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