TENANT BROKE LEASE EARLY (Breach of Contract in Michigan)

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Old Feb 1st, 2012, 03:17 PM   #1
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Confused TENANT BROKE LEASE EARLY (Breach of Contract in Michigan)

Hello I had a tenant break their lease in the middle of it. The damages to the house are more than their deposit is. I understand I have to file small claim against them in order to get it. Can I also put legally in my next lease, break lease fee? I understand I can not charge them for months I have another renter in there but can I charge them for 2-3 months for break lease fee? But someone else told me I have to file a consent for Breach of Contract in Michigan. When I called the courts they did not know anything about this? and said they can not file that until I go to court and get a judgement. ?? What do I do? Thanks
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Old Feb 1st, 2012, 03:47 PM   #2
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Default Re: TENANT BROKE LEASE EARLY (Breach of Contract in Michigan)

When one signs a lease they are obligated for the full amount of the lease. If a landlord decides to put in a clause limiting the amount he will seek that is his option. But as a matter of law, the lessor is obligated for the full amount of the lease.

The landlord's obligation is to put the property back on the market for lease right away, make a good faith effort to rerent or release it. Ordinarily, a couple of months rent is all the landlord is entitled to -- IF he has made a good faith effort to re rent the property.

As to the damages, you are entitled to restitution for the damages the tenant has caused -- in full amount, deducting the damage deposit from that amount. You need to document the extent of the damage and, hopefullly, you had a walk through when you leased it so any defects could have been noted then.

You will probably have to file suit in small claims for your damages -- breach of the lease plus damages to the property that exceed the damage deposit.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2012, 09:02 AM   #3
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Default Re: TENANT BROKE LEASE EARLY (Breach of Contract in Michigan)

Thank you for the quick response! I spoke to a free lawyer yesterday for a minute and he told me to get the form, General summons civil form to fill out for court.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2012, 02:39 PM   #4
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Default Re: TENANT BROKE LEASE EARLY (Breach of Contract in Michigan)

I spoke to lawyer again, he told me I can not bill them for any months since I re-rented it which I understand and can not charge them for break lease fee if its not in my lease.

So someone can break a lease and not get penalized for it? Kind of crazy I think.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2012, 03:07 PM   #5
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Default Re: TENANT BROKE LEASE EARLY (Breach of Contract in Michigan)

Not be penalized!? You call owing landlord for duration of lease not a penatly!? Which is norm. You suffered no loses since unit has been rented. If your concerned about this then rewrite lease terms for any new tenant.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2012, 03:12 PM   #6
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Default Re: TENANT BROKE LEASE EARLY (Breach of Contract in Michigan)

The reason you cannot charge them for breaking the lease is that you immediately re rented it. That would be double dipping, charging two people for the same month's rent -- "unjust enrichment." That is why you cannot charge them additional rent.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2012, 08:20 PM   #7
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Default Re: TENANT BROKE LEASE EARLY (Breach of Contract in Michigan)

I understand I can not charge them for months re-rented to someone else. They do not have to pay the duration of the lease since I rented it fast. So they are not getting penalized, it just don't seem fair.
But I had to go in there and hurry up , clean it up, re-paint it all just so I could try to rent it for the following month. It just doesn't seem like its fair to break a lease in the middle of it? Especially winter months! This just tells me next time I guess I really dont have to hurry.

I might just add in next lease that they are responsible for months not occupied for the remainder of the lease + additional break lease fee.

Can I do that?
Thank you!
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Old Feb 2nd, 2012, 08:23 PM   #8
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Default Re: TENANT BROKE LEASE EARLY (Breach of Contract in Michigan)

Laws vary by state you should construct the lease with the aid of a local Attorney.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2012, 12:45 AM   #9
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Default Re: TENANT BROKE LEASE EARLY (Breach of Contract in Michigan)

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Originally Posted by Landlord44 View Post
I understand I can not charge them for months re-rented to someone else. They do not have to pay the duration of the lease since I rented it fast. So they are not getting penalized, it just don't seem fair.
But I had to go in there and hurry up , clean it up, re-paint it all just so I could try to rent it for the following month. It just doesn't seem like its fair to break a lease in the middle of it? Especially winter months! This just tells me next time I guess I really dont have to hurry.

I might just add in next lease that they are responsible for months not occupied for the remainder of the lease + additional break lease fee.

Can I do that?
Thank you!
Adding a clause that says they are responsible for months not occupied is already a standard legal practice. Whether or not you put that clause in your leases is irrelevant, it still applies as a matter of basic real estate contract law.

You're right, it's just not fair for someone to break their lease and try to walk away without penalty. The law already provides for a penalty in such situations - the tenant legally remains responsible for unpaid rent until the end of the current lease term, or until a tenant replaces them, whichever occurs first. Your state also recognizes a LLs duty to mitigate their losses by requiring them to exercise reasonable efforts to find a replacement tenant following such an event.

That being said, you have no damages, because you made the efforts to repair and prepare the rental unit and found a replacement tenant fairly quickly. You aren't entitled to rent from the first tenant, as you already know, because you are receiving it from the new one. You CAN, however, sue the first tenant for any damages (costs and expenses) you incurred to repair and restore the rental unit for the next tenant over and above the amount of their security deposit. You are NOT entitled to any additional monetary amounts due to your inconvenience, regardless of what you may feel.

In your next lease, you can (and should) include a clause that addresses an Early Termination fee for, say, 2-3 months worth of the current rental rate. In such a situation, this fee ends up being in the form of liquidated damages, or an estimate of the amount you would lose until you can find a replacement tenant. And since it is a fee, and not ACTUAL damages, the law allows you to collect that fee regardless of whether or not a new tenant is found within that 2-3 month period.

You should contact a real estate attorney to assist you in preparing a legally effective lease to include that Early Termination fee clause.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2012, 08:58 AM   #10
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Default Re: TENANT BROKE LEASE EARLY (Breach of Contract in Michigan)

Keep in mind yes you can have an early termination cluase but if the unit stays empty passed that 2 to 3 month period you cannot collect rent for duration of lease. Simply put it is fair you have not lost anything as you rerented unit. Was it right for tenant to leave before lease ended? No it wasnt but you suffered no damages
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