By Amy E. Feldman
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Students are heading back to school and are about to sign a lease for the year. Once you do, what are your legal rights if you want or need to move out early?
Singer Sean Kingston suffered a life threatening jet ski accident, after which he decided he couldn’t listen to the sound of the ocean, so he up and left the mansion in Miami he’d been renting and moved to Hollywood. His landlord has sued not only for the damage to the property but also for the $50,000 in rent payments still owed for the remainder of the term.
When you sign a lease, you are obligated to pay the rent every month for the term of the lease, regardless of how soon you realize that the sound of the ocean, or the sound of your roommate’s snoring, is unbearable. This means that if you leave, you are still obligated to pay for the entire term no matter how good your reason to want to go or how much notice you give your landlord of your intent to depart, unless it says you can do so in the lease. And your lease may even say that you don’t have the right to find another tenant to sublease so you can get out of your obligation.
That said, a landlord may decide he’d rather negotiate up front than risk your skipping out so it’s worth it to try to negotiate.
And of course, read every word of that lease carefully so you know your obligations, and ask your roommate questions like, “have you ever been told you snore” before signing on the dotted line.