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I leased a storage unit in Washington State, USA. The contract states that I needed to give notice to vacate before the 20th of the month and that I need to vacate before 5:00 pm on the last day of the termination month. I notified the manager via email my intent to vacate before the 20th deadline. I stated that I would vacate the unit before 5:00pm on the 31st of the month (a Sunday) as stated in the lease.

Here is a copy of the notice to vacate clause of the lease. enter image description here

The manger wrote and said I needed to vacate by 5:00pm on Friday the 29th. I asked for clarity on the 29th requirement and referenced the clause of the lease to the manager. The manager would not respond to my emails and explain why I needed to vacate on the 29th only reinstating that I need to vacate on the 29th. I then informed the landlord that unless an explanation was given I would vacate on the 31st at 5:00. I did not have a place to store my things until the last weekend of the month.

The landlord responded to this email by informing me that she was restricting my access to my unit between 9:00am to 5:00pm weekdays citing that I was a security risk to the rental property referencing this clause of the lease.

enter image description here

Because I work on weekdays between 9 and 5 it was impossible for me to vacate the unit without having to take time off work. Recognizing the manager was irrational and fearing a situation where the manager locked me out I vacated the unit on a weekday holiday (the 11th of the month). After vacating I informed the manager that they broke the lease agreement and that the access restrictions placed a burden on me. I asked for a refund for those days (the 12th to the 31st) I was no longer in the unit. I was denied a refund.

All conversations between me and the manager were via email. I have recorded all email transactions. I was in no way rude, made any threats, or acted unprofessionally in my interactions. I did not break any other lease terms.

If I sue in small claims court for that portion of the last months rent (and the summons fees) is there any likelihood that my suit will be successful? Does the lock-out clause of the agreement give me no legal right to seek compensation? Does the demand to vacate early nullify the contract after that point in time?

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  • It would help if you could quote the clauses (using < markdown) as images are not searchable and yours in particular are difficult to read - especially for visually impaired users.
    – user35069
    Commented Mar 22, 2022 at 21:20
  • Did you check whether suing is precluded by an arbitration clause?
    – user6726
    Commented Mar 22, 2022 at 21:53
  • @users6726 - there is a clause of Waiver of Jury Trial - so no trial by jury. There is a Time to bring suit clause which states that the tenant shall commence an action within 12 months. No arbitration clause in the contract.
    – GBG
    Commented Mar 22, 2022 at 22:02

1 Answer 1

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If I sue in small claims court for that portion of the last months rent (and the summons fees) is there any likelihood that my suit will be successful?

Yes, there is a likelihood that you will win. I put the chance at more than 0% and less than 100%. The only way to know is to have a crack - let us know how that goes.

Does the lock-out clause of the agreement give me no legal right to seek compensation?

The lock out clause is not unfettered. It requires the restrictions to be “reasonably necessary”. You would have to prove that the restrictions imposed were not “reasonably necessary” and amounted to such an onerous restriction that they destroyed your ability to benefit from the contract after the 11th.

The sorts of evidence you would need would be the emails you have, your objections to the restrictions as unreasonable (assuming you made them), whether such restrictions have been imposed on other tenants and if so, in what circumstances, the owners reasons for imposing them on you. The case then turns of if that evidence shows the restrictions were unreasonable.

That’s up to the judge.

Does the demand to vacate early nullify the contract after that point in time?

Probably not but you don’t need to prove that. You just need to prove that it was a breach of contract.

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