Q: Is this legal?
I Entered into a lease for nine months in an apartment in Chattanooga Tennessee back in November. After having many issues unresolved (including excessive pet waste, litter, and non-residents jumping a fence and entering the complex and wandering around) we decided to leave, providing 60 days notice as required by the lease. A part of the agreement included a $5000 lease buyout if one was to leave early. However, this exceeds the entire remaining rent due. I saw online that the landlord is obligated to try to re-rent a property if a tenant leads in a large county in Tennessee. My question is, is it really true that they can require me to pay a $5000 buyout in excess of the total rent due? It seems like the law is trying to provide relief to tenants in this situation, and these buyouts seem egregious and excessive to me.
A: The terms of your lease will ultimately control the situation - in my opinion and without the benefit of reviewing the lease. Yes, it is true that in large counties the Tennessee Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act applies. But the courts are not permitted to blue-pencil leases/contracts in all circumstances. If the $5k is a penalty, it could be unenforceable. But ultimately, you'd probably pay an attorney more than $5k to deal with the issue. However, that said, call around Chattanooga and see if you can get a consult with a landlord/tenant attorney to review the lease and see what options you may have.
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