What is the penalty for breaking a lease to rent a home prior to the end of the leasing contract?

Asked on July 25, 2015 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The penalty is that you have to continue paying the rent for the remainder of the lease term (i.e. until the lease's expiration), since the lease is a contract and you contractually agreed to pay rent for a certain period of time. (It is irrelevant whether or not you use or occupy the space: all that matters is that you agreed to pay for it.)

The landlord does have a duty to make "reasonable" efforts to re-rent the space, like advertising it for lease and/or working with a leasing agent/realtor. IF the space is re-rented before the end of the lease term, you'd only have to pay rent until the new tenant takes over. But again, the landlord only has to try to re-rent it, and there is no guaranty he/she will be able to; if the space does not rent, you will pay until the end of the lease, and if you don't, the landlord can sue you for the money.

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