Am I eligible for prorated rent

8 Replies

I live in Frisco, TX. I rented a home for over a year. The lease agreement I signed with the home owner states that I am obliged to pay rent till end of April. I bought a home and had to move out in March. When I asked the owner about my situation, he said that if he can find a new tenant, the lease would be pardoned.

Now, here is my question. I already paid the owner rent for the month of April. The new tenant moved into the rental home on April 15th and has paid prorated rent for the last 15 days of April. I asked the owner if he could return to me 15 days rent since he already has a new tenant paying rent for the second half of April. The owner said No without any further explanation.

I wanted to ask if I had grounds for requesting a refund of 15 days rent from the owner. From what I have read, it is not legal (at least in TX) for an owner to charge rent from two different tenants on the property at any given point.

Please advise.

Xian

@Xian Anu Yes, you can take him to small claims court for the 15 days he received rent from the other tenant, that you had already paid for.  Texas has a duty to mitigate law for landlords.  This means, a landlord must try to find another tenant, and can only charge you rent until he gets rent coming in again.

Here's the actual law:  I got it here:  http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/PR/htm/...

PROPERTY CODE TITLE 8. LANDLORD AND TENANT CHAPTER 91. 

PROVISIONS GENERALLY APPLICABLE TO LANDLORDS AND TENANTS

Sec. 91.006. LANDLORD'S DUTY TO MITIGATE DAMAGES.  

(a) A landlord has a duty to mitigate damages if a tenant abandons the leased premises in violation of the lease.

(b) A provision of a lease that purports to waive a right or to exempt a landlord from a liability or duty under this section is void.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1205, Sec. 8, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

To sue in small claims court, you first have to ask for what you want in writing.  Like this:

Dear Landlord:

As you know, I paid rent through ______________, but vacated the rental at _____________________ (address) on ____________________, with notice, as I bought a house.  You were able to get a new tenant to move in and start paying rent on ____________________.  I have asked you verbally to reimburse me the rent for 15 days that you have received double rent on - from me and your new renter.  You refused.

This is my request in writing to reimburse me $_____________ rent, for the time when you received double rent from me and your new tenant.  This is not allowed under Texas Property Code, Title 8, Chapter 91, Section 91.006.  Here is the quote of the law:

(cut and paste the law here)

Please send me a check in the amount of $_____________ by _______________ (give him a week), or I will be taking the matter to court and will ask the court for the money you owe me per TX law, as well as my court fees and any penalty allowed.

Sincerely,

You

Good luck!

If the new tenant paid prorated rent, then you still owe the other part of rent for April. The only way the landlord owes you any refund is if the new tenant paid the full price for the month of April.

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@Account Closed paid for the full month of April.  The new tenant started paying rent April 15th.  So, Xian is entitled to the rent he paid from April 15 - 30th, since the landlord received double rent for that time period.

Have you given your former landlord your forwarding address to start the 30 days they have to account for your deposit ?  If they do not provide a detailed accounting of deductions of the deposit during that time you have a good case to collect in small claims. Typically the owner cannot "double dip" but many leases contain re leasing clauses that can eat up excess funds

@Randy S. Some states actually do allow double-dipping.  It depends on their duty to mitigate laws.  I think that's scandalous.  We need emoticons :-)

It depends on what is listed in the lease agreement and what is allowed in state law.   In my opinion, there should always be penalty for terminating (breaking) a lease prematurely, i.e. moving out before the lease term ends without mutual agreement.

In the standard Texas (TREC) lease agreement, we are allowed to specify a percentage of rent, or a fixed dollar amount as fee (penalty?) even if a new tenant is found to replace the previous tenant.  Don't forget, there are cost to find a new tenant and this cost are amortized into the montly rent the tenants are paying.  So, the landlord should be able to recover this cost.

As for me, I state in my all my lease agreements that if the tenant finds a replacement, I will charge him/her 1/2 month rent as fee (penalty).  If I am the one who finds the new replacement, I will charge the previous tenant 1 month rent.  You may call this "double-dipping" but I have to cover my cost, time and effort to handle this extra work just so to allow the previous tenant to terminate the lease prematurely.

Exception of course (as stated by state law) is, if the one of the list tenants is called for active military service, or if there is a court judgement on family violence amount any of the listed tenants, then the tenant(s) can terminate the lease prematurely without any fee or penalty.