If a tenat ends a lease early, what are the landlord’s rights?

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If a tenat ends a lease early, what are the landlord’s rights?

There are 4 guys who have leased our home for another 3 months. They have all signed the lease and agreed to the terms. Now, however, they have come to us and are telling us that they are planing on moving out by the end of this month. We have not had this happen to us before with other tenants so we are a bit unprepared as to what rights we have as landlords and what obligations the tenants have. What avenues can we take to secure that we get the remaining payment for the last 3 months and, if they do end up leaving early, what actions can we take to protect ourselves and our assets?

Asked on March 15, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Vermont

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The tenants remain liable for the rent for the balance of the term of the lease.  However, once the place is re-rented, the former tenants obligation to pay rent ends.  As a landlord, you will need to mitigate (minimize ) damages by making reasonable efforts to re-rent the place and cannot allow the place to remain vacant for the remainder of the term of the lease.  If you allow the place to remain vacant for the remainder of the term of the lease without making reasonable efforts to re-rent, your damages (the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit against the former tenants assuming they fail to pay the remaining rent) will be reduced accordingly.

If you do re-rent the place before the remaining three months of the lease end, if the new tenant is paying less rent than the former tenants, the former tenants will remain liable for the difference in rent for the balance of the term of their original lease.  Again, you will need to mitigate damages by having a valid reason such as market conditions for charging the new tenant less rent than the former tenants were paying.  If you don't have a valid reason for charging less rent, you will have failed to mitigate damages and your damages will be reduced accordingly.

Reasonable efforts to re-rent the place will be determined by what other landlords in the area are doing to attract tenants; for example, posting a sign on the premises advertising the rental, advertising the rental in the newapaper, a local rental guide or online, etc.

If you make reasonable efforts to find another tenant and are unsuccessful, your former tenants will remain liable for the rent for the balance of the term of their lease.

 


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