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My lease has a provision that if you've been on the lease more than 9 months, the penalty for breaking the lease is smaller than if you've been on the lease for less than 9 months.

I signed a lease in 2019. In 2020 I signed an identical lease except for the dates and rent amount. It's more than 9 months since the signining in 2019 but less than 9 months from the signing in 2020.

I gave intent to break the lease and the landlord is claiming that I owe the larger penalty because I signed a new lease. I think the landlord's logic is questionable. Because the new lease is the same as the old, I think the new signing was simply a renewal and I should pay the smaller penalty.

Who is right?

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  • This probably depends on the exact phrasing in the lease.
    – Ryan M
    Sep 9 '20 at 7:45
  • In addition to the actual wording of the lease, the answer will also depend upon the jurisdiction in which the property is located. Sep 9 '20 at 16:18
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Who is right?

So far your description reflects that unfortunately the landlord is right. For it to be otherwise, the clause about sanctions would have to be in terms of cumulative tenancy (i.e., not limited to the duration of the current lease period), which seems very unlikely.

Here the distinction between renewal and new lease is immaterial or non-existent. Furthermore, the converse of your interpretation could entitle the landlord to terminate the current lease or increase the rent anytime for the sole reason that you have rented the unit more than nine months already (taking into account your prior year's lease).

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