Knoxville, TN asked in Landlord - Tenant for Tennessee

Q: What takes precedence, lease or law?

My family needs to break our one year lease early. Our lease states that if we were to terminate early for any reason, we will be responsible for all remaining rent due to the end of the lease, forfeiture of all deposits and fees, plus two additional months of rent. Which will equal about $15,000. (A little excessive IMO). They are also not allowing us to try and find reasonable tenants for a lease takeover, out of our pockets. However, according to TN 'mitigating damages' law, the landlord needs to actively try to find someone to take over the lease and the tenant is only responsible for any time in which the property was unrented (and any damages, etc). So, which takes precedence? I would assume the law, but if that were the case, why even have that HEFTY fine written in the lease? Thanks!

Related Topics:
1 Lawyer Answer
Paul E. Tennison
Paul E. Tennison
  • Brentwood, TN
  • Licensed in Tennessee

A: Law trumps the lease. There is a mitigation of damages requirement in Tennessee.

In general the reason people put language in the lease that goes beyond what the law allows is that such action is not illegal. People think with good reason that strong worded language scares people into abiding by agreements and thus makes more money for the companies that the contract favors and should lead to less litigation because people do not generally know what the law says and simply follow the heavy handed language included in the lease.

This may be the type of a case where you would be better off if you consult with an attorney to review the facts and possibly write a demand letter on your behalf with an attempt to settle the issue much more favorable to you and more reasonable. Perhaps something along the lines of you terminate early and pay one month rent only in consideration for them releasing you from the lease. If you can show there were other tenants willing to take over the lease and they refuse them that would tend to show a failure to mitigate. Good luck!

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.