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I live in Michigan and I am breaking my lease to move to Maryland. I current pay around $1200 a month. According to the document I signed, I have to remain in the apartment for 6 months, then give them a two month notice, and then after those two months I have to pay another 2 months rent. In addition I will have to pay a "coupon rate" of close to $200 for each of those ten months rent. The amount this comes out to is $9,092. In addition they refuse to honor their duty to mitigate damages (make a best effort to find another renter), and I live in a very nice complex (which I am renting for below market due to when I moved in). The housing/rental area I live in is also a very hot market. My apartment complex also refuses to allow me to sublet.

I was wondering what my real legal responsibilities are in this matter, and what the maximum amount I am legally required to pay. I am also absolutely certain they will be able to rent the complex quickly (I will give 1 month notice, and will move end of summer which is a hot time to rent in my area).

I have a friend who is a landlord and he says the law states the maximum rent that can be charged is 3 months. Is this true?

  • After reading this, I have a couple of things to ask. Did you get into an agreement relating to the place you are staying now? The second question is 'Is there any clause related to your issues that you are facing now? However, if you decide to move out months before the agreement finishes, I feel that it would be good if you could talk to your landlord and settle this amicably. And now that you say that you have plans to move to a new residence, you might also require to get into a new agreement. If you want a new agreement to save you from falling prey to similar situations, you can get a cu – Ella Besanth Jun 18 at 12:08
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they refuse to honor right to mitigate damage laws

It is unclear whether you mean that the lease disavows the landlord's duty to mitigate damages. If so, that would be in violation of state law, thereby rendering the lease unenforceable (at least in part) or the landlord in breach of contract. MCL 554.633(1)reads:

A rental agreement shall not include a provision that

[...]

(k) Releases a party from a duty to mitigate damages.

It is also unclear from your post whether the lease requires the penalization payments to be accelerated. If so, it would also violate item (i) of same statute, which prohibits a clause that

Provides that rental payments may be accelerated if the rental agreement is breached by the tenant, unless the provision also includes a statement that the tenant may not be liable for the total accelerated amount because of the landlord's obligation to minimize damages, and that either party may have a court determine the actual amount owed, if any.

Altogether the conditions of your lease seem quite punitive, whence it surprises me that you signed that lease in the first place.

I have a friend who is a landlord and he says the law states the maximum rent that can be charged is 3 months. Is this true?

Ask your friend provided you with the specific statute. The sections pertaining to Landlord and Tenant Relationships do not reflect what your friend told you, although it could be that that provision is located somewhere else in Michigan legislature.

  • Indeed this rental agreement is quite punitive. I trusted the leasing person when asking them if I could break lease if I changed jobs. It turns out I can only change jobs for a job transfer. I am referring to MCL 554.633 in reference to mitigating damage. The leasing office does indeed want this sum of money upfront upon moving out, and they give no alternative. The leasing office said they will not give my money back even if they re-rent the place. Does that make this part of the contract void? And if it is void, what does that mean for me? – math314 Jun 17 at 18:26
  • @math314 Yes, that portion of the contract is void. See MCL 554.633(3). Consequently, you may proceed in accordance with MCL 554.636 and possibly be entitled "(1)(a) To void the rental agreement and terminate the tenancy" in addition to other relief (including "(4) [...]court costs plus statutory attorney fees"). For purposes of evidence of landlord's refusal to cure his violation(s), make sure that henceforth your communications with the landlord are in writing. – Iñaki Viggers Jun 17 at 18:40

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