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FAQ: I moved out before my lease ended. Can the landlord charge me a penalty?

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FAQ: I moved out before my lease ended. Can the landlord charge me a penalty?

I moved out of my unit three months before my lease expired. The lease states that I have to pay my landlord an early termination fee of $1000. Is this legal?  

Early termination fees are enforceable as a valid liquidated damage clause if (1) the injury caused by breach of the lease is difficult or impossible to estimate accurately; (2) the parties intend the amount to cover damages and not act as a penalty; and (3) the amount is a reasonable estimate of the landlord's loss due to the early termination of the lease. If these requirements are not met, then the early termination fee cannot be enforced against the tenant.

Last Review and Update: Jul 25, 2011