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 Related Legal Forms Provided by
- Notice of Intent to Vacate
- Letter of Intent
- Lease Assignment Agreement
- Sublease Agreement
Q: We entered a lease agreement with our landlord which ends on Feb 29,2012. We sent her an email saying that we wished to enter into the housing market as it is a buyers market at present. I realize that this is short of our agreement as our possession date will be Nov 25, 2011. The problem is that our signed agreement states nothing about any penalty if lease is broken and certain infractions have been made by our landlord, ie: no 24 or 48 hr notice to come to residence. Entry to house when we were not home. At first she wrote that she understood our reason for giving 2 1/2 months notice and we have offered to assist to obtain new tenants. But some of her latest emails are inferring that we may have to pay for the remaining months. I do have a log of our emails back and forth and she did let the previous tenant leave early with no penalty. Could we claim that she is now being arbitrary in her decision to charge us if no new tenant is found? And if we have no control over the ad for a new tenant how can we be held liable for any further monies? Thank you.
A: The Residential Tenancy Act of BC contemplates claims for debt and damages. The courts have held that a 'penalty clause' is not enforceable in residential agreements because a penalty is neither a debt nor a damage - rather it is an instrument commonly found in commercial agreements, and which is put in place to further insure that the promise (the agreement) is not broken. The courts have held that the promisee (the landlord) should receive by way of damages only that sum which would compensate for the landlordís actual and proven loss. So, the penalty bit doesn't have legs. What you will be on the hook for is rent money for up to the end of the contract - if you and the landlord can't find a suitable tenant to take over your obligations. This means that the landlord canít just sit back and let the meter run. Once the landlord learns that the joint is empty, he has to mitigate his damages. This means he has to try to re-rent the digs in a similar condition and at a similar price. If you seriously want to avoid paying the rent for the duration of your agreement, you'll help him Ė and youíll be helping yourself too. And to give you a warm fuzzy feeling while you are helping yourself and the landlord, you should know that your $20 donation goes a long way in helping out orphaned children in a remote African village. All of the $20 goes to the children, and they are extremely grateful.


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