Can my elderly father-in-law break his lease due to the fact that his caregiver is moving out of the area and he needs 24 hour care?

He needs to break his lease; he has 2 months left because his caregiver is moving out of the city. The daughter who is taking over his care lives elsewhere.

Asked on October 20, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

First of all check the terms of his lease to see if this situation is covered (typically however it won't). If there isn't a specific provision for early termination due to a medical condition, there may be a general provision for ending the lease early with a stated period of notice to the landlord (i.e. 60 days). If not, then you will then need to check local laws (although in most places it is not legal to break a lease for medical reasons). Finally, you can explain this situation to your landlord and see what, if any, arrangements regarding your termination it is willing to make.
 
Unfortunately, a lease is a contract and if you break it you are technically responsible for the rent remaining on the lease term (plus applicable fees, if any). You should be aware however that landlords have a duty to "mitigate" damages". This means that they are legally obligated to minimize damages by re-letting the premises as soon as possible. So if your father breaks his lease, his landlord has to advertise his vacant unit and try to find a new tenant. If they do, they have to let him out of the remainder of the term.  However, that will still almost certainly result in paying for at least a few months more but it may at least give some financial relief.

Possibly you can assist the landlord in finding a new tenant. Also, if the lease allows or the landlord will permit, you can try to sublet the unit. Accordingly, even as your father is paying rent to his the landlord, someone else will be paying your father. You can more easily accomplish this by subletting to a sub-tenant for less than what your father pays; he then will make up this difference.  Granted, it's not the perfect solution but getting something is better than getting nothing.


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