Legal Question in Landlord & Tenant Law in Washington

Legality of fees for breaking a 2 year lease

I am relocating to another state due to my job. I signed a 2 year lease and am into mo 11. I helped to re-rent the condo and they now have a new tenant secured, contract & deposit in hand. I am now told that they will withhold nearly $1100 of my deposit due to a lease fee clause. The clause is ambiguous as written: 'This amount shall be a minimum of $166.67 if lease is broken in the first 12 months...' The property mgr claims that they will be charging the owner a re-leasing fee of $2k which I am responsible for paying - hence the $166.67 fee. I read the clause to mean that I would have to pay the $166.67 for ea mo it remained unrented. It's rented and I'm moving out and the new tenant is moving in 4 days later. Is this legal - given that the lease does not state what the amount of the ''lease fee'' is anywhere - and their math to arrive at the $1083.42 doesn't even compute with the language of the clause. Also - they had the lease notarized, but only the landlord's agent signed it. In WA St, doesn't a 2 yr+ lease require the signature of the landlord & the tenant to be valid? Thank you fo ryour help.

Asked on 1/02/09, 2:45 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Amir John Showrai The Pacific Law Firm, PLLC

Re: Legality of fees for breaking a 2 year lease

I'd have to read the lease in full because some of what you mention seems hard to believe (not that I think you're lying, but rather perhaps misinterpreting something, so reading the whole lease gives me context to sort out discrepancies). That said, I agree, the fees sound funny, but I can't say much else. You should ask for a written basis upon which they arrive at the $1,083.42 figure.

As for the notarization issue, unless you are claiming that you did not sign it, why would this be an issue for you? If the lease is deemed invalid, that may not be enough to secure you your entire security deposit back.

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Answered on 1/02/09, 6:38 pm

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