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Location: San Francisco, CA

Terms of my sublease: 3 months followed by month-to-month which may be terminated by either party after giving 30 days written notice.

I entered the month-to-month period of my lease and gave written notice on the 8th of last month, indicating my last day would be the 8th of this month. I fully plan on paying the pro-rated amount for this month ($monthly_rent * (8 days / 30 days) = $pro-rated amount). My roommate hasn't found anyone to replace me yet and is saying I'm on the hook for each day of November that the room I moved out of is vacant. When I explained that this goes against the terms of the sublease, he claimed that "it's an issue of equitability that judges freely allow." He claims he is entitled to pro-rated rent for each day of vacancy all the way to the end of November since I didn't tell him I was looking for a new place and that he needed more time to get the place cleaned up to show to prospective tenants. It is worth noting that I chipped in $60 to help him pay for a cleaning service.

Is he right? Is there ever a case where I'm liable for pro-rated rent beyond the 30 day notice period? Do I owe him rent for each day in November that the room is vacant beyond the 8th? Would a judge make an exception in his favor since I didn't tell him I was looking for a new place to live?

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First of all, the amount involved is probably a few hundred dollars, maybe a thousand: if you do not pay it is extremely unlikely that your roommate will attempt to recover.

Even if they do, they will probably fail - 30 days notice is 30 days notice: unless last month was February, the 8th to the 8th is either 30 or 31 days, you have complied with the terms of the lease. If the lease had said "one named months notice" then your roommate may have a case; as it is, they don't.

Is he right?

No.

Is there ever a case where I'm liable for pro-rated rent beyond the 30 day notice period?

Only if it says so in the lease.

Do I owe him rent for each day in November that the room is vacant beyond the 8th?

No

Would a judge make an exception in his favor since I didn't tell him I was looking for a new place to live?

Judges don't make exceptions, particularly not in anybody's favour. The role of a judge is to enforce the law - not to make exceptions to it. A judge would give effect to the terms of the contract except where those terms are prohibited or against public policy.

  • Regarding your first paragraph: It would be me taking him to small claims, not the other way around. He has a monster deposit (2.5x monthly rent) that he can withhold. He currently plans to deduct a prorated amount for each day the room is vacant from the deposit. – ben.coffee Nov 1 '15 at 22:00
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    Bugger!!!!!!!!! – Dale M Nov 1 '15 at 22:14
  • Depending on how many days he claims the room is vacant, I would have to sue for anywhere between $75 and $1650. That's San Francisco rent prices for you! – ben.coffee Nov 1 '15 at 22:14
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    It's lousy that you might have to be the one to take the matter to court, but one thing to explore that might work in your favor: state laws often expressly limit what purposes a landlord (or, in your case, lessee) can deduct from funds from your security deposit. Sometimes withholding part of the deposit for almost any claims beyond compensation for physical damage to the premises (beyond reasonable wear & tear, anyway) is prohibited. Check for California state laws, even San Francisco local laws, that cover the subject. – mostlyinformed Nov 2 '15 at 17:48
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    @blahshaw Excellent. if he deducts the alleged rent from the deposit and you have to go to court against him you may even be able to claim additional damages to punish him for intentionally & deliberately breaking that provision and/or state laws on the subject. But again, check the relevant law in your jurisdiction. (This is not legal advice, I am not admitted to the Bar of the State of California and am therefore not qualified to give you legal advice, and all the other standard-but-correct disclaimers.) – mostlyinformed Nov 2 '15 at 19:37

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