Can my landlord sue me if he can’t re-rent after I move due to something I allegedly said to perspective renters?

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Can my landlord sue me if he can’t re-rent after I move due to something I allegedly said to perspective renters?

8 of my friends and I rent an apartment and our lease is up in August. My landlord has been trying to find new renters for the apartment. He has yet to do so and recently e-mailed us accusing us of telling perspective renters not to rent the apartment (the e-mail does not state what we are accused of telling them in any detail). He says that if he does not get people to move in after we leave, he will sue us for slander, and wants us to be responsible for paying the years rent. I know for a fact that none of us have done any such thing. Would his case hold water?

Asked on April 28, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

It is difficult to make any determination on an issue without all the facts.  Slander is what is known  as "defamation" which is a tort under the law.  The absolute defense to defamation is truth, so even if you said something to the prospective tenants if it was truthful your speech would be protected.  Now, without any proof on his part it is a difficult thing to prove.  So I would not really worry about it unless he starts a suit, which I doubt he will.  Now, a bit of precautionary advice.  Leave the apartment broom clean and take pictures.  Ask the landlord to come and do an exit walthrough.  If he refuses document that - maybe in writing - so you have proof should he sue you later for damage to the apartment.  Good luck.


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