Am I forced to pay rent if I was evicted before the lease was up?

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Am I forced to pay rent if I was evicted before the lease was up?

I signed a 12 month contract but my financial aid was revoked which resulted in me losing my campus job and student status (withdrawal). They gave me 2 days to move out and now I have no job. They sent me a letter asking for the full semesters payment which I wasn’t allowed to stay at the apartment during. They were notified I was relying on financial aid solely and were notified during the financial aid approval process that it was revoked.

Asked on March 14, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you stopped paying your rent, you were in breach of the lease.  If the landlord was a private landlord, then they could not evict you merely because you *might* not be able to pay...in other words, if a private landlord evicted you before you actually stopped paying, that may have been an illegal eviction and the landlord's breach of the lease, which might mean you wouldn't have to pay the balance of the rent (see below).

If the landlord is the school and you wirthdrew as a student, that probably would be grounds to evict you properly--it's very likely the case that student housing is only for students.

If the eviction was proper--either because you were no longer eligible for student housing or because you violated your lease in some way (such as by nonpayment), then yes, the landlord may proceed against you for the rent you would owe under the lease. When a tenant breaches, even if they are evicted, they are still responsible for rent for the entire term of the lease. So if you signed a 1-year lease then you breached it in some fashion (including by terminating your student status, if a requirement of the lease is that you be a student), then the landlord could theoretically go against you for the entire year  of rent; the caveat is that the landlord must make good-faith efforts to re-rent the space, and can only get rent from you up to the time they re-rent it or the expiration of the lease term, whichever comes first.


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