If atenant is breaking a lease agreement, am I entitled to compensation for time spent finding a new tenant?

I had a 2 year lease agreement with a tenant. Recently, they informed me they are breaking the agreement (early) and moving out due to unemployment and medical expenses. It has taken me about 15 hours of work showing the house and advertising it. Am I entitled to any compensation for this which I can deduct from their deposit? What would be considered a reasonable rate to charge them?

Asked on September 6, 2010 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) As is generally the case, your own time spent due to someone's breach of a contract  or lease--in this case, the time spent showing the house and advertising it, etc.--is not compensible; you cannot recover for  it.

2) If the tenant breaches the lease and moves out early, they are *still* responsible for the lease payments they should make for the full balance of the lease term, until such time as you succeed in rerenting the place. (N.B. you have to make reasonable, good faith efforts to find new tenants). That can be as short as 2 - 3 weeks or as long as 2 years, if they moved out right after signing. For example: they moved out after 3 months of a 2-year lease, and it took you 9 months to find a new tenant--they owe you for 9 months. If they moved out and it took you 2 weeks to find a new tenant, and another 2 weeks before that tenant's rental started, they owe you for 4 weeks. However long you were tenantless, they owe you. If they don't pay, then you could take the amount out of their security deposit and/or sue them for the balance owed.

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