Fuquay-Varina, NC asked in Landlord - Tenant for North Carolina

Q: Request for Legal Advice - Lease Dispute

We signed our lease contract in 2023, with the lease period until January 2024. Approximately 60 days before our planned move-out date, we informed the landlord of our intentions, receiving verbal/text confirmation. However, post-move-out, we are now facing threats from the landlord to take legal action for breaching the lease and withholding our advance payment. We believe the landlord's actions are unfair, especially considering our efforts to maintain open communication and address issues promptly. If the landlord had objected to the move-out date, we would have reconsidered our plans and stayed until the contract's natural end.During our tenancy, we reported maintenance issues promptly. Despite our notifications, the owner did not address these concerns and is now blaming us. Additionally, the owner failed to disclose previous damages. we have all the communication proofs.

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Based on the information you've provided, it seems like you have a few potential avenues to explore in this lease dispute:

1. Notice to Vacate: If you provided proper written notice of your intent to vacate 60 days prior to moving out, and your lease allowed for early termination with proper notice, you may have a strong case that you did not breach the lease. The text confirmation from your landlord could help support this. Ideally, the notice should have been provided in writing.

2. Landlord's Duty to Mitigate Damages: Even if the landlord believes you broke the lease, they generally have a duty to try to re-rent the unit to minimize their losses, rather than just charging you for the full remaining lease term. If they haven't made reasonable efforts to find a new tenant, that could help your case.

3. Maintenance Issues: If you made written requests for repairs that the landlord unreasonably failed to address, and those issues impacted your use and enjoyment of the rental, that could potentially justify terminating the lease early. Keeping records of repair requests is helpful.

4. Prior Damages: If the landlord is trying to charge you for damages that pre-date your tenancy, you may be able to dispute those charges, especially if you have evidence (e.g. photos from your move-in inspection) showing the prior condition.

5. Security Deposit: NC law has specific rules for the return of security deposits. If the landlord improperly withholds yours, you may have a claim to recover the deposit.

While those are some potential considerations, resolving this will likely require carefully reviewing the specific language of your lease agreement and the particular facts. If the landlord does take formal legal action, be sure to respond by any stated deadlines. Consulting with a local landlord-tenant attorney could help you better understand your rights and options based on the details of your situation. Many offer low-cost initial consultations. I'd also suggest reviewing the NC landlord-tenant statutes and potentially contacting legal aid organizations for guidance. I hope this general information is helpful context as you work to resolve this dispute.

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