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CONTACT 13: Be sure you understand your lease or it could cost you

Posted at 10:55 PM, Aug 31, 2016
It's so important to know what your lease says when your renting. One valley woman didn't know, and it nearly cost her $2,000. Contact 13 has her story, so you don't make the same mistake. 
 
"How can somebody be so lacking in compassion?" asks Liz Lane.
 
She and her kids moved into their 3,700-square-foot rental home last September and were looking to move out at the end of their lease.
 
"I followed the protocol of sending them a certified letter, explaining that I was going. This was my notice to vacate on Aug. 31," says Liz.
 
But what Liz didn't realize, is her lease runs through September.
 
"I reached back out to her and I said I'm really sorry. I thought it was Aug. 31, instead of Sept. 30," says Liz.
 
But an email shows her management company "decided to accept and enforce the notice" Liz had sent them. They expected her out by the end of August and to pay a $2,000 fee for breaking her lease.
 
"So I responded back, so you're telling me I have to move out Aug. 31?" asks Liz.
 
Liz admitted to making a mistake but wanted to stick to the original agreement. So when management wasn't willing to work with her, Liz reached out to Contact 13. We contacted management, and they agreed to let Liz and her kids stay for the last month of the lease.
 
So what should you know when renting? First, be sure you have a copy of your lease for your records. And check what it says before contacting management.
 
"Anytime you sign anything with a landlord or anyone for that matter, you should be very certain of what the terms are and make sure you understand what's in it," says attorney Lauren Pena, with the Civil Law Self Help Center.
 
She says understanding your lease is key. Liz didn't know the details of her contract, and management almost charged her $2,000.
 
"In that case sure, they can say she terminated her lease... If she officially sent notice that she wanted to break her lease, then it could stand," says Lauren,
 
If you have a complaint, just like Liz, put it in writing. That way you have record of everything. If there's a cost involved and your landlord doesn't respond in a timely manner, then you can warn that you plan to withhold rent or the cost of a necessary repair. For tenants like Liz, keeping records can make all the difference when dealing with a difficult situation.
 
"I felt like I've been so reasonable with them, and to be treated like that, I've just never had that problem," says Liz.