Decoding real estate rental agreements

Get up to speed on lease terms, cancellation rights

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Q: I just signed a one-year lease on a place, but changed my mind the next day. When I let the manager know right away, he insisted I owe for the entire lease. Am I still obligated for the whole year? A: Keep in mind that a lease isn't just a piece of paper – it's a legally binding contract between two parties, in this case landlord and tenant. In order to break that contract, both parties have to agree, and that is where it gets tricky. Most landlords will keep you on the hook until a suitable replacement is found to release you from the rental contract. Are you obligated for an entire year? Possibly not, in some states and localities. Courts have held that the landlord has to make a good-faith effort to re-rent the place as soon as possible. Note that advertising costs may be also be deducted from your deposit. If you feel an unfair amount was withheld, consult a mediator or attorney for details. Q: Don't rental consumers have a three-day right to cancel a contract or leas...