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Withholding Security Deposit for early Termination - Landlord Forum thread 355946

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Withholding Security Deposit for early Termination by mdk0420 on February 1, 2018 @03:28

I have a lease I continued using (with a few updates unrelated to this) from the old landlord. In the lease it says if the tenant breaches the contract that the lease will accelerate, or in other words the entire amount will be due immediately.

I know that it is unethical, and most cases impossible to win a judge over by saying that they owe 11 months out of a 12 month lease (for example) and not even live there. I've tried interpreting the laws the best I can, but I would like verification from experienced members.

If the tenant breaches contract (in this case early termination), can I withhold a reasonable amount (The whole one month security deposit)? She is being nice enough to give me a 60 days notice, but she is still terminating the contract close to 7 months early. I did not formally accept it but she did ask if she needed any official noticed. I told her if I was her I would give at least a 30 days notice, just so the landlord would know ahead of time to mitigate costs. And that she would still be breaking the lease.

If I do get to withhold this security deposit, how should I do it? PA requires a itemized list of deductions and the return of the security deposit (if any) within 30 days of termination or "Acceptance and surrendering" of the property. If I "accept" the surrendering of the property does that mean I'm OKing her to cancel this contract early? Do I still get to mitigate the time it takes me to rent the property from her security deposit from the date she "surrenders" the property if I accept it? Or is that just legal jargon for getting the property back in my hands to be able to accomplish the task of renting it out?

I hate to be that guy, but I even asked her if she wanted to do a 9 months lease because she mentioned she wanted to move in the summer. She said she wasn't looking to move and that she would sign the year lease. Now I'm holding her to it. Is that so bad? Personal opinions on the matter besides all the legal talk?
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Re: Withholding Security Deposit for early Termination by Anonymous on February 1, 2018 @06:23 [ Reply ]
Security deposit is for material damage to property. Walls floor windows and so on. If you keep any of the security for lost rent. T could take you to court and most likely you would loose.
You could ask for a month rent to cancel lease. But T could just walk. So going to court would be your only option to collect a judgment on T.
Re: Withholding Security Deposit for early Termination by Anonymous on February 1, 2018 @07:47 [ Reply ]
Mishandling of security deposits is a mistake frequently made by landlords that can land them in hot water.

The nature of a security deposit and what deductions can be made from said deposit are determined by your state law. Nothing in your lease determines how a security deposit can be used. Nothing the tenant says determines how a security deposit can be used.

Does your lease include any kind of reasonable early termination fee? A court will expect you to re-rent the unit as soon as possible. 11 months is not reasonable.

If a tenant is going to leave, they're going to leave. Your goal as a businessperson needs to be protecting your business and your livelihood. This means -

- Handle the security deposit in accordance with state law.
- Focus on getting the unit re-rented.
Re: Withholding Security Deposit for early Termination by mdk0420 on February 1, 2018 @12:53 [ Reply ]
PA law allows keeping a security deposit for damages, which include non payment of rent. It extends farther then physical damage. It is any damages occurred that is in result of the tenants breach of contract. In this case, a breach of contract would mean an unacceptable early termination that results in the unit being vacant. I know that if she does not pay rent or some other reason that I would need to evict her, that security deposit would be rightfully be withheld. However she is simply moving out early which is still technically a breach of contract, accelerating the entire lease due (similar to a clause in a mortgage where the mortgage accelerates due on sale or sometimes in breach of their contract).

What I'm really curious about is what is a reasonable time to consider as damages in PA. 1 month? 2 months? Surely you can't hold to much time against the tenant themselves for leaving early? PA has no specific laws on this time frame, and what I read up were for other states that say that you can hold 2 months against the tenant for leaving early. Other states do not dictate PA law though.

The Acceptance and surrendering thing is a little confusing too. I know that the lease can be terminated without a breach if the two parties agree. Does that acceptance and surrendering mean just that? That if I accepted it, then I cannot prepare her home to being rented as it would still be hers?
Re: Withholding Security Deposit for early Termination by mdk0420 on February 1, 2018 @13:23 [ Reply ]
I actually found a case law in PA relevant to one of my questions:

"The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania took a much different approach in their 1995 decision, Homart Development Co. v. Sgrenci (443 Pa. Super. Court 538), rejecting a liquidated damages analysis in favor of a more traditional view based upon real property law. The court held that the landlord could not confess judgment for both possession of the premises and for all rent for the entire term, instead deciding that the landlord had to choose one remedy."

So I would not be able to accept the surrendering of the property is my take on that issue. Seems like he had a choice whether he was taking the entire accelerated damaged, or possession though.
Re: Withholding Security Deposit for early Termination by Libby (Pa) on February 1, 2018 @17:50 [ Reply ]
I belive (here in Pa) if they terminate early you can charge them until the apartment is rerented. Most judges will award up to two months rent though

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