Can my landlord make me pay rent even though I moved out?

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Can my landlord make me pay rent even though I moved out?

I moved out of a house because I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and unable to safely get up and down the more than 50 stairs to the house. I gave the landlord 6 weeks notice and explained the situation but he was not cooperative at all. First he wanted me to pay the rent for the remainder of the lease, then he said I could pay him a $1,000 buyout. I can’t afford this and feel like he is taking advantage of me. Are there laws to protect me because of my disabling disease?

Asked on January 5, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Kentucky

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you have not done so, first of all check the terms of your lease. See what, if any, mention is made of an early lease termination due to a medical condition (frankly, there probably is none). If not, then you will then need to check the laws of your state and locality. While they vary, unfortunately in most places it is not legal to break a lease for medical reasons.
 
Otherwise, unfortunately a lease is a contract and if you break it you are responsible for the rent remaining lease term (plus fees, if any). You should be aware, however, that landlords have a duty to "mitigate" damages"; that is to minimize damages by re-letting the unit as soon as possible. So in your case, this means that if you break the lease, your landlord has to advertise your vacant apartment and try to find a new tenant. If they do, they have to let you out of the remainder of the term. But you don't know how long this might take. You could also try to find a new tenant, but again this could take time and in the interim you would be liable for lease payments during that time. Bottom line, the fact is that if your landlord is willing to let you out of your lease for a $1,000, it might be a good deal for you all things considered. 
 

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