Can my landlord hold me liable for a bulk payment equivalent to 3 months rent if I break my lease early to move out?

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Can my landlord hold me liable for a bulk payment equivalent to 3 months rent if I break my lease early to move out?

I currently live in an apartment in PA but have applied for a job in FL. If I get this job I will have to break my lease and leave the state. I have advised my landlord of this and was OK with surrendering the security deposit if I get the job. My building manager is advising me that I will not only lose the deposit, but will also have to pay 3 months rent up front before leaving ($1575). Unless it’s hidden in legal jargon I don’t understand, I can’t find this anywhere in my lease agreement. Can this be true?

Asked on August 1, 2011 Pennsylvania

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There may have been some miscommunication on the part of the building manager.  You don't have to pay the bulk payment up front before moving out.  You are liable for the rent for the balance of the term of the lease or until the place is re-rented.  The landlord has to mitigate (minimize) damages and cannot allow the apartment to remain vacant for the balance of the term of your lease.  The landlord is required to make reasonable efforts to re-rent the apartment.  Reasonable efforts on the part of the landlord would be using methods to attract tenants used by other landlords in the area such as posting a sign, advertising the rental in the newspaper or rental guides, etc.  If the landlord fails to mitigate damages, the landlord's damages will be reduced accordingly.  If the landlord re-rents the apartment one month after you leave or two months after you leave, your obligation to pay rent ends at that time.  What the building manager told you is wrong.  If what the building manager said about an up front bulk payment were true, the landlord would collect double rent (rent from you and the new tenant when the place is re-rented).


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