early termination of rental contract

In July we signed a one year home rental contract in Budapest, but are thinking of terminating it early. The owner has made it clear that our 1.3 month security deposit is not enough for him, and when I tried to negotiate a settlement he asked for 5 months rent.

If we just pack up and leave, is there anything the landlord can do to try to collect through the courts besides just keeping the security deposit? He has vaguely mentioned lawyers (ie. that he would "hate to see lawyers involved").

(I'm not sure if it's relevant but ten days ago the owner informed us, verbally and by email, that he's terminating our contract. That was obviously just a hotheaded comment by him which he didn't intend and didn't have grounds for, but I do have a record of the email.)

EDIT: Our rental contract contains the following clause (which is the only mention of this issue):

"
5.a.
The Landlord is entitled to keep the deposit in case the tenant terminates the lease within 1 year.
"

I wonder if there is a legit reason why you are breaking your lease?
Did the landlord do something like not keep up repairs?
From our understanding the landlord is entitled to keep your deposit if you break your lease. No idea about going to court over such a matter unless... Maybe the landlord knows people who could see you as an easy target to sue?
Courts are very slow here so perhaps you would be out of Hungary by the time they had an open date?
It should be easy right now for the landlord to find another tenant.
I was also under the impression that most flats required at least 2 months deposit plus the first months rent.
Keep us posted, perhaps someone with more legal experience will answer this for you.

How much security deposit is in the contract? If 5 months, and you didnt pay it, he has every right to go after you, after all, he has your contact details, and it is a lot of money. If 1,3 months, they you loose the deposit and thats it. That is the purpose of the deposit.

Though if the contract is about 5 months, why did he give you the keys in the first place, before getting the whole deposit?

Hi there!

If I understand well, you want to terminate your lease contract but the contract includes a clause according to which you lose your deposit if you terminate the contract early. You mention a five-month deposit which is undeniably higher than the market standard (the below commenter said correctly it should be about 2 or 3-month rent). I am working as a lawyer, I am happy to discuss the matter with you in details and see what can be done. If you are interested text me a private message.

mburns :

In July we signed a one year home rental contract in Budapest, but are thinking of terminating it early. The owner has made it clear that our 1.3 month security deposit is not enough for him, and when I tried to negotiate a settlement he asked for 5 months rent.

If we just pack up and leave, is there anything the landlord can do to try to collect through the courts besides just keeping the security deposit? He has vaguely mentioned lawyers (ie. that he would "hate to see lawyers involved").

(I'm not sure if it's relevant but ten days ago the owner informed us, verbally and by email, that he's terminating our contract. That was obviously just a hotheaded comment by him which he didn't intend and didn't have grounds for, but I do have a record of the email.)

EDIT: Our rental contract contains the following clause (which is the only mention of this issue):

"
5.a.
The Landlord is entitled to keep the deposit in case the tenant terminates the lease within 1 year.
"

We had a similar issue with our landlord when we lived in an apartment.  Our deposit was just 1 month's rent.  We lived in the apartment about 7 years and what with little kids, it got a bit bashed up - but nothing special.   It needed redecorating and so on but that was to be expected.  It was just all wear and tear.    We always paid on the dot and we helped him out a few times - like repairing stuff.  He lived in Austria so couldn't come over all the time to replace stuff like taps. So we did it ourselves or we hired in people.

At the end of the day, we bought our own house and moved all our stuff out then gave him one month notice.  When they guy arrived to take the keys back, he went ballistic and he said the place had to be returned in the same condition as we took it on. 

Unfortunately for him, it didn't say that in the contract and in my view that would have been unreasonable.   So I just said we don't have time for that - keep the deposit.   

He was all bluster and lawyers but I just said, bring it on but what is it you really want?  I knew that he wanted to sell the place so despite trying to be nice, it wasn't my problem. I told him to knock off 500K HUF from the selling price to any buyer and then he could move on.  He was in a divorce situation so needed the money pronto.  My luck.

If he'd wanted it all renovated, he should have said that in the contract.  He didn't.   So he kept the deposit and we moved to our new place.

It takes years to get things through court or even basic procedures in Hungary.  He won't have the stamina and maybe the financial depth for it. He'll probably start to rationalise that it's not so bad.   

It's not like he cannot rent it out to someone else.  He would have to show he was seriously disadvantaged  financially by you going - i.e. quantifiable real loss. 

My own view in my case is that he was applying "German/Austrian" rental standards to Hungary. It's common there to have to paint apartments upon leaving.  But if you're say, leaving the country, then it's just adios amigo.  Job done.

I'm afraid that I didn't explain very well.

The contract is for one year, starting July 1. The monthly rent is €1500, which we've been paying month by month. The deposit is €2000, we paid that when we reserved the flat before moving in. Of course, if we move out early, the landlord won't return the deposit - that's standard, and it's written into the contract. My question is if he can also go after the remaining (unpaid) 7 months on the contract., as he has threatened. That's money which we haven't paid yet, so he'd have to go through the courts.

When I broached the topic of leaving with the landlord, he told me that he'd formally release me from the deal if I paid an extra 5 months' rent (ie. through April 2020). He's been hinting that if we just pack up and leave, he won't just take the deposit - he'll also go after the future rent. This sounds like a bluff, but I'm just checking to make sure.

As for why we're thinking of moving out - the flat has lots of problems, there are fumes in the building from the garage, etc. The owner has also been hard to deal with.

[at]GyorgyKecser: Thanks for the offer. If the situation escalates I'll ping you.

Thanks for the answer. We'll be here another year for sure, probably longer.

I talked to our real estate agent and he told me that the landlord's position doesn't have any merit - he can keep the deposit, but nothing more. I just want to make sure, before we move out, that there isn't more to situations like this here.

mburns :

I'm afraid that I didn't explain very well.

The contract is for one year, starting July 1. The monthly rent is €1500, which we've been paying month by month. The deposit is €2000, we paid that when we reserved the flat before moving in. Of course, if we move out early, the landlord won't return the deposit - that's standard, and it's written into the contract. My question is if he can also go after the remaining (unpaid) 7 months on the contract., as he has threatened. That's money which we haven't paid yet, so he'd have to go through the courts.

When I broached the topic of leaving with the landlord, he told me that he'd formally release me from the deal if I paid an extra 5 months' rent (ie. through April 2020). He's been hinting that if we just pack up and leave, he won't just take the deposit - he'll also go after the future rent. This sounds like a bluff, but I'm just checking to make sure.

As for why we're thinking of moving out - the flat has lots of problems, there are fumes in the building from the garage, etc. The owner has also been hard to deal with.

[at]GyorgyKecser: Thanks for the offer. If the situation escalates I'll ping you.

He's trying it on and not very well either.  Maybe it's his opening move.

Don't tell him anything, get another place and move out so it's empty and don't tell him where you've gone.  He cannot hold your stuff to ransom if it's not there.

But document the bad bits - photos etc - so you have ammo in case. 

If you've gone, then what's he really going to do?   

He cannot show any real loss especially if he rents it out immediately.  Is he going to pay you back if someone else moves in immediately? 

If you want to be really nice you could offer to pay an  extra month, but I wouldn't bother.

Good luck!

mburns :

I'm afraid that I didn't explain very well.

The contract is for one year, starting July 1. The monthly rent is €1500, which we've been paying month by month. The deposit is €2000, we paid that when we reserved the flat before moving in. Of course, if we move out early, the landlord won't return the deposit - that's standard, and it's written into the contract. My question is if he can also go after the remaining (unpaid) 7 months on the contract., as he has threatened. That's money which we haven't paid yet, so he'd have to go through the courts.

When I broached the topic of leaving with the landlord, he told me that he'd formally release me from the deal if I paid an extra 5 months' rent (ie. through April 2020). He's been hinting that if we just pack up and leave, he won't just take the deposit - he'll also go after the future rent. This sounds like a bluff, but I'm just checking to make sure.

As for why we're thinking of moving out - the flat has lots of problems, there are fumes in the building from the garage, etc. The owner has also been hard to deal with.

[at]GyorgyKecser: Thanks for the offer. If the situation escalates I'll ping you.

Basically Hungarian landlord scam. Thinks you don't know local law being an American. You lose the deposit as that is in the contract, all else is him just tying to bully you. Locals try to bully you all the time. You Just need to bully back. It is an unfortunate, Hungarian peeing the corner kind of thing that some scammer try to pull.

P.S. 1,500  Euro is rather high rent unless the place is really special*l (i.e. you were probably scammed on the price as well being a foreigner -- scamming foreigners is an occupation for some locals). You can do much better. Rather easily. It you take the time and effort.

* My wife and I paid less for a great apartment in Switzerland -- which is not exactly a cheap country for renting.

klsallee :
mburns :

I'm afraid that I didn't explain very well.

The contract is for one year, starting July 1. The monthly rent is €1500, which we've been paying month by month. The deposit is €2000, we paid that when we reserved the flat before moving in. Of course, if we move out early, the landlord won't return the deposit - that's standard, and it's written into the contract. My question is if he can also go after the remaining (unpaid) 7 months on the contract., as he has threatened. That's money which we haven't paid yet, so he'd have to go through the courts.

When I broached the topic of leaving with the landlord, he told me that he'd formally release me from the deal if I paid an extra 5 months' rent (ie. through April 2020). He's been hinting that if we just pack up and leave, he won't just take the deposit - he'll also go after the future rent. This sounds like a bluff, but I'm just checking to make sure.

As for why we're thinking of moving out - the flat has lots of problems, there are fumes in the building from the garage, etc. The owner has also been hard to deal with.

[at]GyorgyKecser: Thanks for the offer. If the situation escalates I'll ping you.

Basically Hungarian landlord scam. Thinks you don't know local law being an American. You lose the deposit as that is in the contract, all else is him just tying to bully you. Locals try to bully you all the time. You Just need to bully back. It is an unfortunate, Hungarian peeing the corner kind of thing that some scammer try to pull.

P.S. 1,500  Euro is rather high rent unless the place is really special*l (i.e. you were probably scammed on the price as well being a foreigner -- scamming foreigners is an occupation for some locals). You can do much better. Rather easily. It you take the time and effort.

* My wife and I paid less for a great apartment in Switzerland -- which is not exactly a cheap country for renting.

I mentioned this topic the other day to my husband.
First thing out of his mouth was, I bet they are paying a lot in rent for the landlord to go so crazy because it should be easy to rent  the place out again and still just keep their deposit.
That's a lot of "cabbage" for a smelly flat.
Seems he is trying to double scam you.

klsallee :
mburns :

I'm afraid that I didn't explain very well.

The contract is for one year, starting July 1. The monthly rent is €1500, which we've been paying month by month. The deposit is €2000, we paid that when we reserved the flat before moving in. Of course, if we move out early, the landlord won't return the deposit - that's standard, and it's written into the contract. My question is if he can also go after the remaining (unpaid) 7 months on the contract., as he has threatened. That's money which we haven't paid yet, so he'd have to go through the courts.

When I broached the topic of leaving with the landlord, he told me that he'd formally release me from the deal if I paid an extra 5 months' rent (ie. through April 2020). He's been hinting that if we just pack up and leave, he won't just take the deposit - he'll also go after the future rent. This sounds like a bluff, but I'm just checking to make sure.

As for why we're thinking of moving out - the flat has lots of problems, there are fumes in the building from the garage, etc. The owner has also been hard to deal with.

[at]GyorgyKecser: Thanks for the offer. If the situation escalates I'll ping you.

Basically Hungarian landlord scam. Thinks you don't know local law being an American. You lose the deposit as that is in the contract, all else is him just tying to bully you. Locals try to bully you all the time. You Just need to bully back. It is an unfortunate, Hungarian peeing the corner kind of thing that some scammer try to pull.

P.S. 1,500  Euro is rather high rent unless the place is really special*l (i.e. you were probably scammed on the price as well being a foreigner -- scamming foreigners is an occupation for some locals). You can do much better. Rather easily. It you take the time and effort.

* My wife and I paid less for a great apartment in Switzerland -- which is not exactly a cheap country for renting.

[at]all: Thanks for all of the comments.

I picked the apartment out myself when I visited in May. The price seemed in line with the area, it's 150 m2 on Harshegyi. We wanted to be as close as possible to our kids' school.

The state of the apartment is quite poor, though. The dishwasher and washing machine have each broken down multiple times, there is a problem with the drains, bugs can crawl through the windows, etc.

Marilyn Tassy :
klsallee :
mburns :

I'm afraid that I didn't explain very well.

The contract is for one year, starting July 1. The monthly rent is €1500, which we've been paying month by month. The deposit is €2000, we paid that when we reserved the flat before moving in. Of course, if we move out early, the landlord won't return the deposit - that's standard, and it's written into the contract. My question is if he can also go after the remaining (unpaid) 7 months on the contract., as he has threatened. That's money which we haven't paid yet, so he'd have to go through the courts.

When I broached the topic of leaving with the landlord, he told me that he'd formally release me from the deal if I paid an extra 5 months' rent (ie. through April 2020). He's been hinting that if we just pack up and leave, he won't just take the deposit - he'll also go after the future rent. This sounds like a bluff, but I'm just checking to make sure.

As for why we're thinking of moving out - the flat has lots of problems, there are fumes in the building from the garage, etc. The owner has also been hard to deal with.

[at]GyorgyKecser: Thanks for the offer. If the situation escalates I'll ping you.

Basically Hungarian landlord scam. Thinks you don't know local law being an American. You lose the deposit as that is in the contract, all else is him just tying to bully you. Locals try to bully you all the time. You Just need to bully back. It is an unfortunate, Hungarian peeing the corner kind of thing that some scammer try to pull.

P.S. 1,500  Euro is rather high rent unless the place is really special*l (i.e. you were probably scammed on the price as well being a foreigner -- scamming foreigners is an occupation for some locals). You can do much better. Rather easily. It you take the time and effort.

* My wife and I paid less for a great apartment in Switzerland -- which is not exactly a cheap country for renting.

I mentioned this topic the other day to my husband.
First thing out of his mouth was, I bet they are paying a lot in rent for the landlord to go so crazy because it should be easy to rent  the place out again and still just keep their deposit.
That's a lot of "cabbage" for a smelly flat.
Seems he is trying to double scam you.

It just seems like the area where we live is kind of expensive:

https://ingatlan.com/terkep/kiado+lakas … ,47.534728

We do want to stay in the area because my wife doesn't drive and needs to walk to or from our kids' school up to eight times per day (three kids, three pickup times on some days).

EDIT: If anybody has some suggestions on how to look, I'm all ears. We've walked around looking for "kiado" signs, and browsed the major web sites (ingatlan.com).

I did a quick googling, glanced through an article in hungarian (https://arsboni.hu/felmondhato-e-a-hata … ogviszony/), it seems to me that with the current laws it has be stated explicitely to allow ordinary early termination:

(…) AZ ÚJ PTK. „A HATÁROZOTT IDŐRE SZÓLÓ BÉRLET ESETÉN IS RENDES FELMONDÁSI JOGOT BIZTOSÍT A SZERZŐDŐ FELEK SZÁMÁRA”, AMENNYIBEN A FELEK EKKÉNT ÁLLAPODNAK MEG.

If this is correct, you could still terminate through an extraordinary notice, but in that case you might have to prove that there are problems with the property. I'm no lawyer, so I might be totally wrong, but I got the sense that you could indeed get in trouble and be forced to pay the remaining rent. I'd contact a lawyer, with a rent this high there's much to lose otherwise...

mburns :

....
I picked the apartment out myself when I visited in May. The price seemed in line with the area, it's 150 m2 on Harshegyi. We wanted to be as close as possible to our kids' school.

The state of the apartment is quite poor, though. The dishwasher and washing machine have each broken down multiple times, there is a problem with the drains, bugs can crawl through the windows, etc.

I don't live that far away from you in Budakeszi.  Presumably your kids are at the SEK International School or similar nearby.    Harshegyi is indeed a more upmarket area and prices would be higher there.   We also have issues with the to-ing and fro-ing due to different school day timing but we're flexible as our kids are Hungarian speakers and can attend any school.

Anyway, usually in these types of housing contracts, there's a "diplomatic clause" which allows you to terminate in the event of unforeseen issues - i.e. being posted elsewhere as short notice or just force majeure

I would work on basis of what's not forbidden is allowed.

Obviously you'd need to get another place, get setup there before giving the landlord the good news.  You can always just stop paying the rent until he takes remedial action to fix the issues you've documented.  If you stop paying he'd want you out anyway.   You can always say it's affecting your children's health.  It's a two way street - he provides the place as usable/liveable and you provide him with rent. 

The chances of him being able to get the money out of you is close to zero.  The legal system is so slow, it could take 4 or 5 years to even get to a hearing.  They will also always want a negotiated settlement to be  explored first.  Maybe you'll be long gone by then.

But collect your evidence so you have some reasonable grounds to to fight back if they want to take it on.

Hungarians are very reactionary and get wound up easily.  They lose all rational behaviour and jump to the extremes.  They usually calm down after  a bit and if you are entirely reasonable, then he's not really got any grounds to extort you of 1000s EUR in rent.

You might also wish to note that if you pay him in cash, keep a record with signed receipts and better, you should always pay him via  bank account so there's evidence he was paid.  He might not be declaring it so the the NAV will want to know. It's a nuclear option.

mburns :

I picked the apartment out myself when I visited in May. The price seemed in line with the area, it's 150 m2 on Harshegyi. We wanted to be as close as possible to our kids' school.

The state of the apartment is quite poor, though.

If the state is poor, then the place is not really special.... Is it?  :cool:

In many places, the "average price" does not mean much. Many places have become trendy, or stylish, so rates increased, but that does not mean all apartments have kept up in quality to match the price the owners think they can charge. Our own region has become very trendy in the past few years, and prices have skyrocketed. Yet there are still houses around without indoor plumbing. Renter/buyer beware

mburns :

EDIT: If anybody has some suggestions on how to look, I'm all ears. We've walked around looking for "kiado" signs, and browsed the major web sites (ingatlan.com).

Consider using a rental broker. That is, a local professional who can help you find the best place according to your list of needs. Web sites don't really help much here (and they often list the most expensive places).

For one thing, there may be many places that are not so close to the school, but have a direct tram or bus connection, which may actually mean less walking. I am not saying that is going to be true, but what I am saying is a local person knows the area and given your needs can provide many local knowledge based options.

fluffy2560 :

The chances of him being able to get the money out of you is close to zero.

And, even if successful in court, the landlord can only claim actual losses. So if he rented the apartment a month after the OP left, he would not be entitled to much more than that one month rent, plus court and legal costs.

That is, this is not a US legal system here. The idea of huge awards for such things as "pain an suffering", et al, costs don't really exist here.

fluffy2560 :

Hungarians are very reactionary and get wound up easily.  They lose all rational behaviour and jump to the extremes.

Reply moved to:
https://www.expat.com/forum/viewtopic.p … 21#4729335

klsallee :
fluffy2560 :

The chances of him being able to get the money out of you is close to zero.

And, even if successful in court, the landlord can only claim actual losses. So if he rented the apartment a month after the OP left, he would not be entitled to much more than that one month rent, plus court and legal costs.

That is, this is not a US legal system here. The idea of huge awards for such things as "pain an suffering", et al, costs don't really exist here.

Yup, that's all true. One has to think in these cases about the drivers/tick boxes for a case for liability.   

While I am not a lawyer, I deal with some of these things during my working life where we regularly use template model contracts.  Choice of jurisdiction is usually local or some third country "trusted" place like Switzerland or Luxembourg or the UK.   

Often we end up thinking of this "test" list if it came to a court showdown (best to have more than one tick):

1) Quantifiable damage - cannot be shown 5 months worth of rent for damage as no damages can be quantified;

2) Illegal act - is there a specific law forming the basis for the claim?

3) Causality   - cannot be shown as the damages (by breach of contract) have not yet occurred .

4) Fault in intent or gross/light negligence - note that non-fulfilment of a specific obligation is enough - i.e. maintenance insufficient (which is why I said collect evidence).

In other words, it's more on the tenant side than the landlord.

Is there any way you would move your children this year to another school?
If not, maybe there is a way to survive these next 5 months in that flat and then just find another one when your lease is up.
Perhaps you can clean the drains and traps to get rid of some of the smells?
Just seems like a lot of trouble to have children, a job and deal with a crazy mean landlord too.

Perhaps the next flat owners will look into your recent rental history here in Hungary and not want to deal with you without charging some other fees as security as you may be listed as a "bad renter".
I don't know for sure if they keep tabs on such things here or not but I know from experience you are treated "differently" at the doctors offices and clinics if you tip or don't tip. They got online to look at my medical history at one clinic over 2 years ago and seriously I was given the run around for over 2 months with 4 different doctors at that clinic because a few years before hand I didn't tip one doc there for a minor thing. It was very obvious why they turned me away and made promises to see another doctor in 2 weeks, just come back, some old story for 2 months until I went elsewhere.
I'm sure there must keep some sort of tabs on people here with payment history etc.
Best of luck.

Marilyn Tassy :

Is there any way you would move your children this year to another school?
If not, maybe there is a way to survive these next 5 months in that flat and then just find another one when your lease is up.
Perhaps you can clean the drains and traps to get rid of some of the smells?
Just seems like a lot of trouble to have children, a job and deal with a crazy mean landlord too.

Perhaps the next flat owners will look into your recent rental history here in Hungary and not want to deal with you without charging some other fees as security as you may be listed as a "bad renter".
...
I'm sure there must keep some sort of tabs on people here with payment history etc.
Best of luck.

Usually countries have a credit bureau which is accessible to any business or bank who might wish to advance a loan to an individual.  I don't see this happening in property rental in Hungary.  If there was a court judgement against the person then it should be on the credit record. But if there's no court outcome or it was a private deal, then there's no issue and there shouldn't be any record.  If they want references, the employer could always show they were employed at that location.  I've never been asked for references but I lived in my own houses for years.   

Even  if there was such a record, under the data protection GDPR laws (EU-wide) there will be a method of legally changing/correcting/deleting data.   

There's a weird thing often cited in my own country that if you don't have any debts (i.e. no mortgage) and therefore no track record of paying regularly, this is rumoured to give you a lower credit rating score than someone who is a consistent, regular and non-defaulting payer.   

Might be best if the OP's other half got a driving license and access to a car and then could ferry around the kids.   It's inevitably going to be a necessity as kids get older - anyone past about 10 or 12 needs this parental service.   It's either pickup or drop off and sometimes at odd hours of the day and night.  Mrs Fluffy is a 24x365 permanently on-call taxi driver for ours.  But it's getting to the point now where the eldest Fluffyette will have to go by public transport alone - has to do it sometime.  But by the time they reach 18, the first thing they will need to do is get a driving licence (US: license).

I know my husband was little, like 7 years old or perhaps a bit younger still and he rode the bus and trams himself here in Budapest but then again, he grew up at a time when all adults kept an eye on kids in public.
He showed me where he walked to kindergarten in the 5th as a little 5 year old, did that rather long walk himself, he basically grew up on the streets it seems.

I would be a bit afraid now days to allow a kid all over the place by themselves , sad things are not better then the past.

It was just a thought that they might check out their rental history here if they applied at a rental agent but then again one could always say you were staying with so and so .
I know in the US I had to show a copy of 2 bills coming to the house in my name to get a real ID driving license, only had one so a local bank account acted like another.
I'm just always playing the devil advocate, hate to see anyone get sued for thousands and then have to shell out yet another few months deposit on another place. In the end they could possibly even lose that deposit on another flat after another landlord gets too greedy and finds fault with the flat on move out day.
Take a ton of photos for your records is good advice I think.

Marilyn Tassy :

I'm sure there must keep some sort of tabs on people here with payment history etc.
Best of luck.

https://www.mnb.hu/fogyasztovedelem/hit … s-rendszer
https://bisz.hu/en/homepage/

Rawlee :
Marilyn Tassy :

I'm sure there must keep some sort of tabs on people here with payment history etc.
Best of luck.

https://www.mnb.hu/fogyasztovedelem/hit … s-rendszer
https://bisz.hu/en/homepage/

Yup. that's them!

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