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Picado v. Sollecito

A-2535-05T1 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2006) (Unpublished)

LEASES; HOLDOVER—Where a lease for a given term provides that after the expiration of the lease term, either party has the right to terminate the lease on a certain number of days written notice to the other, it does not mean that a tenant must give written notice to its landlord when the tenant vacates before the end of the stated lease term.

A residential lease provided that the tenant “could remain in possession after the expiration of the lease term, on a month-to-month basis, with either party having the right to terminate the lease on thirty days written notice to the other.” The six-month term of the lease expired at the end of September. On September 8, the tenant notified its landlord that it would vacate by October 1. It vacated on September 30. The landlord deducted rent for the first half of October from the security deposit before refunding the difference to its tenant. The tenant sued, and the lower court ruled that so long as the tenant “vacated by the end of the original six-month term, no notice was required.” On appeal, the Appellate Division agreed that “a reasonable interpretation of the lease did not require any notice if [the tenant] vacated the premises during the initial six-month term. The notice provision did not become effective unless [the tenant] held over, which [it] did not.” The Appellate Division, however, did reject the lower court’s calculation of damages. The lower court doubled the total amount of the tenant’s security deposit before permitting any allowable deductions. In rejecting the lower court’s “calculations,” the Court pointed out that the applicable statute calls for allowable deductions to be taken from the security deposit before doubling the amount wrongfully withheld by a landlord.

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