Will I get bad credit if O break my lease?

I am a tenant and recently lost my job. I can no longer afford my rent my lease which isn’t up for another 7 months.

Asked on January 29, 2013 under Real Estate Law, California


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

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that a lease is a binding contract. Although in some leases there are provisions for early termination due to unemployment (admittedly this is rare). You need to review the terms of your agreement to see if there exists such an out. If not, you should speak to your landlord if you have not already done so and see if they can offer you a solution.

If you cannot legally get out of your lease, you will be responsible for all of the remaining rent.  That having been said, landlords do have a duty to "mitigate damages". That means that they need to minimize their loss by re-letting the premises ASAP. Therefore, if you break the lease, your landlord has to advertise to try and find a new tenant and, if they do, they have to let you out of the remainder of the lease term.

Can assist in finding a new tenant (maybe a friend or someone from work)? If you find a suitable replacement, your landlord will have to take them. Or perhaps, if your lease allows or your landlord will permit, you can try to sublet (then even as you are paying the landlord rent, someone else is paying you  as your subtenant). You can more readily find a someone by subletting for less than what you currently pay; you will then make up this difference. While not the ideal solution, getting some rent is better than getting nothing.

Bottom line, if you don't continue to cover the remaining rent due, your landlord can sue you in small calims court. Once a judgment is issued, it will more than likely be notated on your credit report and will remain until the judgment is satisfied (i.e. paid off in full with penalties and interest).

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