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  1. #1
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    Default Tenant Broke a Lease with 15 Day Notice but Wants a Deposit Refund

    My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: DC
    My tenant had a one year lease from July to July and notified me October 15 they were moving out on November 1. I have scrambled to find a temporary tenant to move in at a much reduced rental rate. The tenant is demanding their security deposit back. Can I legally withhold security deposit for lost rent?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Tenant Broke Year Lease with 15 Day Notice but Wants a Deposit Refund

    Have you actually found a tenant?

    why? The tenant owes you for the full lease unless you replace them. There was no rush to replace the outgoing tenant.

    If you did accept a tenant at a lower rent generslly you can retain the deposit to compensate you and you can charge the monthly difference for the remaindner if the original lease

    BUT

    if the leaving tenant argues you could have obtained a tenant at the full rate and it was your choice to take what you got, they may be able to escape owing you the difference in rent rates.


    Its going to be up to to decide if it’s worth arguing for the money.

    It appears you have 45 days to return the deposit or provide a list of the deductions along with any remiander.

    If it was me I would probably hold it for awhile before returning it, if that is what you choose to do. A landlord needs to not bow to a tenants demands if they are unreasonable.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Tenant Broke Year Lease with 15 Day Notice but Wants a Deposit Refund

    Quote Quoting Kluke
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    My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: DC
    My tenant had a one year lease from July to July and notified me October 15 they were moving out on November 1. I have scrambled to find a temporary tenant to move in at a much reduced rental rate. The tenant is demanding their security deposit back. Can I legally withhold security deposit for lost rent?
    Study the Maryland landlord tenant statute:

    https://law.justia.com/codes/marylan...perty/title-8/

    Where is the property located?

    There may be local codes that you need to know.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Tenant Broke Year Lease with 15 Day Notice but Wants a Deposit Refund

    If the property is in D.C., the place to look is the Code of the District of Columbia.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Tenant Broke Year Lease with 15 Day Notice but Wants a Deposit Refund

    The house is in Washington DC. Thank you for your time.

    Thanks. I still kind find information about laws relating to use of security deposit for lost rent. I am grateful for these thoughtful comments.

    Thank you very much. This response is very helpful and I feel it is reasonable to hold on to the deposit to compensate for lost rent until the remainder of the original lease. However, I want to verify that this is legal in DC. The tenant is difficult and demanding and I am trying very hard to be ethical and fair. I am very grateful for your perspective and information.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Tenant Broke Year Lease with 15 Day Notice but Wants a Deposit Refund

    Quote Quoting jk
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    Have you actually found a tenant?

    why? The tenant owes you for the full lease unless you replace them. There was no rush to replace the outgoing tenant.
    You have verified that a landlord has no duty to mitigate damages in DC?

    If you did accept a tenant at a lower rent generslly you can retain the deposit to compensate you and you can charge the monthly difference for the remaindner if the original lease

    BUT

    if the leaving tenant argues you could have obtained a tenant at the full rate and it was your choice to take what you got, they may be able to escape owing you the difference in rent rates.
    The OP also does not have to find a tenant for just the remainder of the lease. The landlord could just as easily rent to a new tenant for a full year's lease. So if the OP is thinking that he needs to reduce the rent because he can only offer a short term rental, he is mistaken.


    Its going to be up to to decide if it’s worth arguing for the money.

    It appears you have 45 days to return the deposit or provide a list of the deductions along with any remainder.

    If it was me I would probably hold it for awhile before returning it, if that is what you choose to do. A landlord needs to not bow to a tenants demands if they are unreasonable.
    I agree with this, but the landlord cannot be making mistakes that could him/her to appear unreasonable either.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Tenant Broke Year Lease with 15 Day Notice but Wants a Deposit Refund

    D.C. case law indicates that the landlord's duty is dependent on the language of the lease.

    If the lease does not include a provision that allows the landlord to re-enter and re-let in the event of a breach while holding the tenant liable for lost rent, the landlord's options are (1) to release the tenant from further obligation, (2) to let the premises sit empty and collect rent for the duration of the lease, or to (3) without acquiescing in the abandonment, to re-let the premises and hold the tenant liable for any deficiency in the rent. Hart v. Vermont Inv. Ltd. Partnership, 667 A. 2d 578 (D.C. 1995).

    If there is such a provision, it creates on the part of the landlord a duty to make a reasonable effort to re-let the rental. Simons v. Federal Bar Building Corporation, 275 A. 2d 545 (D.C. App 1971).

    Although those are commercial cases, D.C. has historically the same principles to residential leases. Hinton v. Sealander Brokerage Co., 917 A. 2d 95 (D.C. App. 2007). I don't see any more recent authority.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Tenant Broke Year Lease with 15 Day Notice but Wants a Deposit Refund

    Quote Quoting llworking
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    You have verified that a landlord has no duty to mitigate damages in DC?
    Yes but apparently some individual judges will take a landlords attempt or lack of attempt to mitigate their damages in their decision. Under a pure contract theory there would be an obligation to mitigate but that is a bit different when it comes to landlord tenant law.

    But

    that was not my point. I was questioning the op for working so hurridly and accepting a tenant paying less than the outgoing tenant. They could have waited a bit to find a tenant paying a similar amount.
    I agree with this, but the landlord cannot be making mistakes that could him/her to appear unreasonable either.
    Huh? What’s unreasonable about complying with the law? He has 45 days to return any of the deposit not retained. There is no need to give in to some guy making demands.

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