Penalty for breaking a lease…

By catherine

Hi, can someone plse advise.  We originally signed a 1 yr lease and had every intention of staying for the full period, however, 4 months in we broke the lease due to purchasing a house.  The rental contract states-  Deposit – resident agrees to pay a deposit of xxxx to secure residents pledge of full compliance with the terms of this agreement. the depsoit may not be used by tenant to pay rent during the tenancy.  At the end of the tenancy any damages or unpaid rent or charges will be repaired or paid for at resident’s expense with funds other than the security deposit.  Termination states Resident agrees that termination by resident of this agreement prior to xxx regardless of cause will constitute a breach of the tenancy as agreed on pg 1 and all deposits shall be forfeited in favor of the owner as full liquidated damages at the owner’s option.

The landlord has decided to keep our full deposit ‘cos she can!!  And not off-set the deposit money against damages or rent and has hit us for further charges for rent/damages (again most of this stuff was already there but I didn’t document it!!/replacement of carpet (which wasn’t our fault!)  We are in dispute about that ‘cos there was a water leak due to the toilet ballcock breaking upstairs and small areas were damaged by water leakage which I showed her but now she claims she didn’t know anyting about the carpet damage and that it is pet urine!!  Are Landlords allowed to keep the deposit without taking the other costs she has hit us with under Utah Law?


Edited on: Thursday, September 8th, 2011 9:11 am

4 Responses to “Penalty for breaking a lease…”

My response: (We welcome stories, examples, explanations, answers and a touch of your personality)


November 18th, 2008 7:44 am

To answer your questions based on Utah Rent Laws and your contract:
QUESTION: Can my landlord keep my deposit?
ANSWER: Yes. The rent laws in Utah rely mainly on the contract made. In the contract it states that if the lease is terminated early the deposit will be forfetied, regardless of reason. The law will side with the landlord in this case. You breached the agreement, the deposit is forfeited.

QUESTION: Shouldn’t my landlord deduct charges from the deposit, even if I broke my lease?
ANSWER: No. They can, but most don’t. Since the lease agreement was terminated early, the landlord gets your deposit, period. Therefore the deposit is in essence gone.

Breaking a lease early has severe penalties. I’ve seen some other property managers go so far as to not market their rental just so they can continue to collect from the individual that signed the lease. If you think about it, there is little motivation for your landlord to find a new tenant. Although I personally feel the practice is unfair, it still commonly happens.


November 18th, 2008 8:48 am

Thanks Randy, You hear so many different views on our legal rights, even from lawyers. I’m in dispute about the carpet situation. I have filed a complaint cos our landlord is not responding to our phone messages and emails to try and resolve the whole issue, from her email he has given 7 days before replacing the carpet. I thought a mediator would be a good place to start, what do you think?


November 18th, 2008 3:08 pm

I agree mediation is ALWAYS better than going to court. If you are considering mediation, I would suggest doing it through the RPA, here’s why:
1) The case is documented as public record
(this keeps your landlord more honest)
2) The Agent will have dealt with this exact situation 100’s of times over
3) The program is subsidized so you only pay a processing fee of $35
4) Finally– they’re the Rental Protection Agency!
I think the best resolution will be made through the RPA. I first learned of this agency when one of my renters file a complaint on me. I was so impressed with the Agent and how the case was handled that I registered to be an RPA Approved Landlord. I’ve always been an ethical landlord, but now I have the credentials to prove it.
Good Luck!


August 8th, 2012 12:25 am

i was suppose to move into a apartment spt1 2011 i went to the apartment to clean and noticed the walls were damp from the paint was chipping the ceiling looked like it had previous damage when i asked the landlord before signing a lease he said its musty due to not having a renter in 2 months i asked if it leaks “OH NO OF COURSE NOT” he wants to break the lease instead of repairing the problem i am left with 2 weeks to find a apartment I had already given my notice to the other lanlord What can I do if anything


Yes, the RPA® Can Help You!

Filing an official complaint is the nation's fastest way to solve tenant problems.

Not Ready? Learn more...

Virginia Complaint Filling Deadline  Tips/Suggestion

Need Help Filing Your Complaint?

Agents Available Mon- Fri 10am to 10pm

Recently Resolved Complaints:

See how the Nation's Rental Authority has helped thousands of tenants already!

Ask Question:

Post a new question to the RPA Tenants rights forum.

You Have Tenant Rights.
Recently Posted Questions:

Over 4,000 questions have been asked by tenants including these new posts:

Tenant Rights Categories

Popular categories about renters rights.