What are a tenant’s obligations if they move out prior to the termination of their lease?

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What are a tenant’s obligations if they move out prior to the termination of their lease?

A few friends and I moved into an apartment. We signed a 1 year lease. After 3 months we could no longer pay rent. The apartment sent us a 10 day or quit letter. We agreed and moved out. Now the are charging us for the application fee’s they waived and the first 2 weeks they gave us free. On top of that they are charging us for every month the apartment goes unrented. Are we just out of luck and have to pay?

Asked on October 7, 2010 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You are contractually obligated under a lease for the full term of the lease--so if you signed for one year but only paid for 3, you are still obligated for the remaining 9 months. Since landlords have a duty to mitigate, or reduce, damages, they have to try to rerent, and once the premises are rerented, you're no longer responsibel--so you are responsible until the end of the term or rerental, whichever occurs first. (The landlord MUST try to rerent, btw.)

You would not have to pay for the 2 free weeks or application fee unless the lease in some fashion stated that you would be liable for them in the event your tenancy terminated early.


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