Leaving Early

My Taiwanese partner and I need to rent a place for four months. We hope to find a landlord who’s willing to negotiate this (for increased rent), but we expect to have to sign a one-year lease and pay any penalties for leaving early.

The lease used to our previous rental agreements was the standard booklet, grey-green with a red binding, entitled 房屋租賃契約書. I expect to use this rental agreement again. I have two questions, one about the agreement and one more general.

Question 1

If I leave early, according to this agreement, what penalties do I owe the landlord?

Condition 19 says clearly enough that, if we leave early, we have to compensate the landlord one month’s rent (租賃期間內乙方若擬提前遷離他處時, 乙方應賠償甲方一個月租金).

Condition 5, which fixes the amount of the security depost, says that, if we don’t continue to rent, the lanlord is obliged to renturn our secutiy deposit (乙方如不繼續承租, 甲方應於乙方遷空、交還房屋後無息退還押租保證金).

But I’m worried that I’ve misunderstood Condition 5. My Taiwanese partner thinks this only applies if we complete the agreed rental period. I think 承租 means nothing fancier than “to rent” in this context, but she reads 繼續承租 as “to continue to the rental contract” and not just plain old “continue to rent.” Which is it?

If the landlord has to give us back our depost when we leave, even if we leave early, then the one month penaly for doing so (mentioned in Condition 19) will just amount to losing our deposit (assuming it is one month, which I intend to insist on). If not, then it looks like we lose the deposit as well as the penalty, or, two months of rent.

Question 2

How much notice, if any, are we required to give the landlord before leaving? I ask this question because I am considering two scenarios.

  1. I considerately give my landlord one or even two months of notice (and, so my partner insists, inform him that my deposit will cover my last month’s rent). But then he might just decide to lock me out or otherwise cause a problem.

  2. I give my landlord no notice at all. But then I might not be able to get my deposit back without a hassle, assuming (see Condition 19) that I have any claim to it if I leave early.

My preference is to be as decent as possible, but my previous experience in Taiwan has led me to believe that, when it comes to money and status, this will result in my getting fucked left and right. So, despite myself, I’m trying to look at all of this as just business as brutally usual in Asia.

But perhaps there is some provision in Taiwanese law which protects decency in this situation, i.e., some law which requires me to give early notice and which protects me from being chased out early as a consequence?

Your Taiwanese partner is right. Give two month’s notice, and tell your landlord that the second month will be your damage deposit. This is fairly standard practice here, and what I’ve done every time I wanted to move. But let your Taiwanese partner do the talking, as he/she should be able to do it without pissing the landlord off.

Landlords in Taiwan hate returning money for any reason, so he should go for it.

As a real estate agent, I always add on another condition to protect renter.
the last condition : If owner take back the house early, he/ she should compensate the renter one month’s rent. And he/ she should apprise (is it correct legal term? sorry i don’t know the exact vocabulary) the renter one month ealier and vise versa.

I don’t think she is. Based on my understanding the security deposit is generally for damages only and must be returned regardless when the contract is terminated (assuming no damages were done to the property).
If you leave early and the penalty for that is one month you can of course balance the two against each other, i.e. the landlord keeps the [1-month] security deposit as compensation.

(2 months deposit and 1 month penalty is typical for 1 year contracts but even here a breach by moving out earlier would only result in 1 month’s penalty, not 3).