Am I legally responsible to find another renter for the unit or buy out of my contract, if I was cleared during the final walk-through?

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Am I legally responsible to find another renter for the unit or buy out of my contract, if I was cleared during the final walk-through?

My previous apartment was leased for 1 year. I moved out after 4 months due to a home purchase. The contract allowed for the lease to be assumed or bought out of. The complex notified me that they had found a renter to take over my lease. They did a walk-through of the apartment at the time of the keys being turned in. I was contacted a month later stating at first that the renter had backed out due to fleas in the apartment. When I called back for clarification, I was told they moved the renter to another unit in the complex, and that it was my responsibility to find someone else to rent the apartment. Also, was informed by the same person that the renter didn’t back out, but the painter found them and refused to paint the unit prior to rental. They said due to the fleas I was responsible for finding another person to lease, or would have to pay each month as I were renting or buy out of my contract.

Asked on June 8, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It depends on whether or not the new renter actually took assignment of (assumed) the lease. If he did--if he actually took over the lease--then that would terminate your liability under the lease except arguably for the cost of extermination, if the fleas were later discovered, you contributed to them, and it was not unreasonable for the landlord to have not discovered them at the time of the walk through. Still, had the lease actually been assigned or assumed, that should have been the extent of your liability. That because once a lease is assigned, you are removed as a party to it.

However, if the lease was not actually assigned--if the new renter backed out prior to actually taking over the lease--then you were never removed as a party and are still  liable until such time as the earlier of finding a new tenant who will take assignment of the lease or the expiration of the lease.


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