I have a question about a lease.

9 Replies

Hey bigger pockets community, my parents are preparing to move into a new apartment in Portland, Maine and they were asked to agree to some terms on the lease that are a little concerning. They are selling their home to move into this apartment. Everything is moving smoothly, but obviously moving into the apartment is contingent on the sale of the home. 

The lease states that "If home sale falls through - rent for the entirety of the lease will still be due, unless another tenant can be found (by you) and agreed upon (by landlord)."

What do you think about this clause. Is this a common thing? What should my parents do? Thank you in advance for helping with this. 

Welcome! While I wouldn't say this specific clause is common, the concept is. It's a bit much for the landlord to require that your parents find an acceptable tenant to replace themselves- I'd be willing to bet this is a small time investor or accidental landlord. Most states have laws in place that require tenants breaking a lease to pay rent until a new tenant is found, however, those laws usually require that the landlord make a reasonable effort to find a replacement themselves. If they really like the place, I'd call the landlord and see if you can rework that wording a bit in a way that make them take responsibility to find a replacement tenant. Good luck!

It sounds like moving into the apartment is not contingent upon the home sale in the landlord eyes. I've never heard where it is the tenants responsibility to fill the vacancy if the lease is broken. Its normally up to the landlord to make a "reasonable effort" to fill the vacancy and the tenant be responsible for any lost rent due to vacancy. Putting it all on the tenant seems uncommon to me.

@Rylee Knox

This is normal. If they are signing a 1 year or 6 month lease then they are obligated for the length of the lease. My lease has this. They are giving them an out in that if they want to break their lease without owing the amount they obligated to when signing the lease then they need to find a qualified applicant to take their place.

Why not just wait till they have their house under contract before signing any lease?

It's probably just a wording issue.

Your parents are signing a contract that obligates them for the entire term. If they decide to break it, the Landlord is going to let them go IF they can find a replacement tenant. In reality, the Landlord is responsible for finding the new tenant but can certainly enlist the help of the departing tenant. Most states require the Landlord to make a "good faith effort" which means they should make the same effort they would if the unit were vacant.

I'm not real keen on the wording of that clause but the concept is mostly valid. The part that I don't think is valid unless Maine has some strange law, is that they are holding your parents accountable for finding a suitable replacement tenant. 

If there is a concern that your parents house will sell this may not be a good contract to get into. If they believe their home will sell soon, even if they have to pay rent and a house payment for one month (assuming they can afford it), this maybe an okay contract but I'd certainly get the language changed about who finds the next tenant.

In Maine it is not inforcable. The only thing the term does for you is that it takes it out of a “tenant at will” situation which you never want to be in for Maine as you have almost no rights. Your lease allows you to set rules for your properties y which you can evict for if not followed provided you give proper notices.

@Ed Emmons is right. They can write it in there but it's not enforceable. The max security deposit can be equal to 2 months rent (meaning either security and last months rent, or just double security), and they can leave anytime in the period of their lease and can only lose their security deposit UP TO, the amount of time the apartment goes un-rented, plus any cost that is written into the lease for turn-over (if they cause damage that's another story).  

I would just sign it, not worry about it, and if they decide to leave, just do it properly (in writing, with proper notice, and taking photos proving they did no damage).  Every tenant should be taking photos when they move in and submitting that to the management via email confirming, this is the condition they rented the unit in. 

I agree with

@Ed Emmons and @Michael Webster that clause is not enforceable in Maine. Them trying to put the burden of finding a replacement tenant is laughable. Why would any landlord want that? I want to be the one who picks my new tenant not someone that I forced to be picked by a former tenant. 

I wouldn’t sign that unless they removed that section.