If a tenant leaves early, what constitutes “reasonable efforts” bya landlord to re-let a rental unit?

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If a tenant leaves early, what constitutes “reasonable efforts” bya landlord to re-let a rental unit?

Is it true that, in Michigan, a tenant can move out of a property after giving 30 days notice to the landlord, and the tenant would only have to continue to pay rent until the landlord found someone else to take over the property? So, as soon as he signed a lease for that property with someone else, the past tenant would no longer need to pay rent? If so, what guarantee does the tenant have that the landlord will make the required “reasonable efforts” to find a new tenant? What is classified as reasonable effort, and how long does the landlord have to try?

Asked on August 11, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you have a month to month lease, thirty days written notice to the landlord is the required time period for terminating the tenancy.

If you don't provide the required notice, you would remain liable for the rent for the remainder of the tenancy.  The landlord is required to mitigate (minimize) damages by making reasonable efforts to re-rent the property and can't allow the property to remain vacant or the landlord's damages (monetary compensation) would be reduced accordingly.  Reasonable efforts would be determined by the methods used by other landlords in the area to attract tenants.  For example, if other landlords in the area attract tenants by advertising in the newspaper or other forums listing other available rentals, posting a sign on the property advertising the vacancy, etc., those would be considered reasonable efforts.  The landlord doesn't have to use all of those methods to attract tenants.  Reasonable efforts by the landlord would be determined on a case by case basis as would a reasonable time for making those efforts to re-rent the property. 

Once the place has been re-rented, your obligation to pay rent for the balance of the lease term would end unless the landlord rented your former apartment for less than the rent you were paying for example due to market conditions.  If that occurred, you would remain liable for the difference in rent between what you paid and what the new tenant is paying for the balance of your lease term.  Once your lease term has ended, you would no longer be liable for rent.   


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