New Owners On Leased Property

Question: I moved out of a home I was renting before the lease expired, and the property is now under new ownership, seeking payment.

I had signed a lease to rent a house in New Buffalo, Michigan. I have since moved out, and have not been living in the house since December. The house has also been sold and is under new ownership and new management. My lease says nothing about it being transferrable, and I am being contacted by the new owners and being instructed to pay rent for the remaining months on the lease with the original owners. I am hoping that you may help shed some light on what action I can take and what recourse I have for denying payment, if any.

Answer: Generally, leases are assignable by Landlords unless there is a specific prohibition against an assignment by the Landlord in the Lease. If you want to terminate a lease as a Tenant, you need to force the Landlord into evicting you. If the Landlord forwards a Notice to Quit, then you have a strong position that the lease is terminated by the Landlord and the Tenant must move. A tenant often does this by not paying rent for a month or two. If you just graciously move out, the lease continues until its end and the Landlord can pursue the balance. Good luck in your discussions. Also, double check to make sure whether or not you were served with a Notice to Quit.

Attorney: Mark Miller

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