Q: Can I take a management company to court, because they are charging me for a whole year or rent?
I broke the contract because I was getting away from an abusive relationship. I gave the company a 30 day notice and submitted proof of order of protections. I received a letter back stating that I was able to leave but they will stay with the deposit. Please advice.
A: From the question, I'm assuming that you had a lease but sent a notice to the landlord/management company and left the premises. Your lease needs to be reviewed carefully, but probably you will be deemed to have breached the contract by leaving without paying before the lease expires.
Lease agreements in New York often include what's called an "accelerated rent clause" where it says something like "...upon default in the payment of the rent, the whole of the rent for the balance of the term shall at once become due and payable without any notice or demand."
This kind of acceleration clause in a residential lease is generally valid and enforceable with some exceptions.
HOWEVER, if the lease does not impose certain obligations on the landlord, then the clause can be deemed to impose a penalty and is not enforceable.
Although many landlords often attempt to keep your deposit in response to any kind of default by tenants, it's generally illegal. Certain specific elements must be proved by the landlord (in court) in order for him to justify "taking" your deposit.
I recommend you consult with an attorney who should review your lease very carefully. Reviewing your residential lease, providing comments and advising your options shouldn't cost you much.
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