Can a tenant break a lease if the square footage is less than what was represented?

UPDATED: Aug 26, 2011

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Can a tenant break a lease if the square footage is less than what was represented?

As a landlord I was in the middle of a dozen showings on a great property when an out of state couple wanted additional pictures of the property. After I supplied them they asked for square footage. I told them they were estimates because I was not over there. I estimated overall sq ft of 1100, it might be closer to 1040. The problem they say is one bedroom was estimated at 12×13 and it’s actually 10×10. Because of this they refuse to take possession of a otherwise great unit. I mentioned via email this was only an estimate and they quickly took the unit. Can they break the lease over this?

Asked on August 26, 2011 Minnesota


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The square footage of a rental property or a residential property being sold is ordinarily not a material factor in the consideration of renting or purchasing a parcel if the square footage is off by a bit unlike commercial property where the purchase price is typically based upon an amount per squate foot.

Although the tenants can break their lease to rent a particular property if the square footage is off a bit as represented, the do such at their peril in that they most likely had an opportunity to view it in person before they signed the lease.

If they broke their lease, you as the landlord have the duty to mitigate your damages as the result of the breach of the agreement by trying to re-rent the unit as soon as possible for as high as an amount that you can.

Good luck.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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