Friend is leaving US due to visa problem. She has very good credit history. She is planning to pay all the credit card and utility bills. The only thing she is not willing to pay is lease breaking charges. The community manager is asking her to pay two months rent + January rent + additional wear and tear cost. All of that comes to around $4000. She has no plans to come back to USA. Anyways, what can the communty manager do to recover the money. Is it something worth worrying about? How will it affect her credit history? If she decides ever to come back again, will it cause any trouble while getting visa? Apologies for broken english. Thanks!
A lease is stronger than a normal contract as it is an interest in land. The lease provides the tenant with an exclusive right over that land in exchange for the monthly rent.
The landlord can sue the tenant for the rent regardless of whether the tenant is able to use the apartment or not. After receiving a judgment from the court that the tenant has to pay, if the tenant is overseas, the landlord can ask a foreign court to help enforce the judgment (though this can be quite costly). Any costs the landlord has to pay can be added to the initial amount.
However the tenant usually does have the right to sublet or assign the lease with the landlord’s permission. If your friend finds a suitable replacement tenant (assignee) but the landlord doesn’t agree, if the reason is not reasonable, the courts may let you assign to the new tenant anyway.
It might be worth consulting a local lawyer to help you break the lease with the landlord, as the rules can vary from one place to another.
As for wear and tear - these are often sticky points for the landlord who likes to write up as much as they can for wear and tear to cover their costs of renewing the property for the next tenant. However, they usually have to show: what specifically was damaged; and why it costs so much to fix. One approach to negotiation may be to arrange to get those elements fixed for the landlord out of one's own pocket, or at least a quotation. Some jurisdictions put more onus on the tenant keeping up the renewal of the property if it is a longer lease (e.g. doing structural repairs on a 15 year lease) but if it is a short lease, the landlord should accept some of the cost.