Terminate unilaterally a contract of lease

The Supreme Court, in the Judgment num. 297/2017 of may 16th, analyses if it is possible to terminate a contract by the will of one sole party when there is not any stipulation in the contract that allows it.

In the case, the lessee sued the lessor in order to get of him the payment of 9.771,38€ which was the quantity of the guarantee deposit in the contract of lease plus legal interests and judicial expenses. The claimant considered terminated the contact after that the defendant had refused to renegotiate the terms and conditions of the contract with the reasons that due to the economical crisis it was not possible to comply with the agreement.

The lessee considered terminated the contract by unilateral withdrawal sending the lessor a registered fax (burofax) and then, due to the inactivity of the defendant, the claimant went to a notary public to deposit the keys of the property, officially requiring the lessor to take the keys and return the guarantee deposit for the contract of lease.

The defendant opposed the claim, and counterclaimed the other party, saying that there was not any stipulation in the contract allowing one party to terminate the contract before the term had arrived, so the lessee should comply with his obligations until the term arrived and pay also the judicial expenses, legal interests and the unpaid leases or instalments.

The Supreme Court summarised the doctrine related to this issue in three types of situations that could arise. First, there are cases in which the contract stipulates the right of the lessee to terminate unilaterally the contract paying a determinate quantity of money to the lessor. Second, in other cases there is not such right of the lessee but when he shows his intention of terminating the contract, the lessor refuses it and asks for the fulfilment of the contract. Third, cases in which there is not stipulation although the lessor accepts the termination of the contract but adding the possible damages caused by this early termination.

This case is related with the second group. Jurisprudence understands that the silence in giving a response, or the not reception of the keys, can not be considered as an acceptance. Finally, the petition of the claimant is dismissed and he is ordered to pay.

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