What are my rights regarding giving my landlord notice to move out?

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What are my rights regarding giving my landlord notice to move out?

My lease ended Aug. 31st and I officially moved out Sept. 30th. The landlord was notified on Aug. 7th that I would not be renewing the lease and leaving on Sept. 30th. I never signed anything but agreed to pay the additional month Sept. to give me time to prep for my move. They claimed I am breaking the lease, charged me $400 for breaking it, and are trying to retain my security deposit or parts of it to cover until they get someone in the apartment. What should or can I do?

Asked on October 7, 2015 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If you lease ended August 31 and you moved out Sept. 30, you are not breaking the lease, unless the lease had some "automatic renewal" provision that caused it to renew unless you provided more notice than you in fact did, or unless it by its plain terms required extra notice e.g. 60 or 90 days before moving out. Otherwise, once it's expired, you can't violate it terms regarding length or duration anymore.
You would owe for September, but not for any dates past when you moved out, given the amount of notice you provided you also would not owe any additional fee for "breaking" a lease when you did not break it and in any event, even if you broke the lease, such a fee would have to be stated in the lease to be chargeable against you and if they do not return your deposit other than any amounts for damage you did, or rent you failed to pay during your stay, you could sue, such as in small claims court, for its return. 
In fact, your state, if the landlord wrongfully withholds the security deposit, you may be able to get double the amount wrongfully withheld back, plus potentially legal fees, under the Security Deposit Act SDA--trying "googling" "New Jersey Security Deposit Act" for more information.


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