What to do if a landlord reneges on an agreement with a tenant?

My girlfriend is moving out of her apartment. Her lease requires her to give 60 days notice of moving out. When telling the landlord that she would be moving out effective the 31st of next month, the landlord told her that she would give my girlfriend a break if she was able to be out by the 17th of this month and not charge her for next moth’s rent. This due to the fact that her landlord had another person that wanted to move into the complex for awhile. We got all moved out and followed all of the requirements to move out. My girlfriend returned the keys yesterday and the landlord informed her that the new tenant was not able to move in right away like they previously thought; now he says that my girlfriend is still responsible for next month’s rent .Can they still require this or couldn’t that be considered a break of a verbal contract?

Asked on September 21, 2012 under Real Estate Law, South Dakota


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

An oral (or verbal) contract or agreement is generally enforceable, including an oral agreement to allow a tenant to terminate her tenancy early; therefore, if there was such an agreement and the agreement itself was not--at the time your girlfriend agreed to it--contingent upon the new renter moving in on time, then no--the landlord should not be able to renege on it and should have to honor it. The key is whether or not when the agreement was made, the landlord said it would only be valid if the new renter moved in when anticipated.

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