Do I have recourse if I believe my landlord is not holding up their legal obligation to re-rent?

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Do I have recourse if I believe my landlord is not holding up their legal obligation to re-rent?

In order to purchase our home we had to break our lease with 4 months left. It states that we owe rent until the unit is re-rented or until the end of the lease. We cleaned, moved and turned in our keys in the third week of last month and paid this month’s rent at that time. We have driven past a number of times and it does not look like anyone has been in the unit since we left. Usually after someone moves out, they will repaint and sometimes re-carpet or replace appliances. We lived there for 6 years and went through probably 8-10

different neighbors between the 3 other units near us. No unit was ever empty

for more than 2-3 weeks and there has been a waitlist on occasion for units. I

understand the letter of the lease but out state also puts a legal obligation

on the landlord to mitigate damages, which I am paranoid they are not doing as our rent is higher than a new tenant’s would be. Now the landlord expects the next month’s rent. Do we have any recourse at all or without solid proof are we just left holding the bill for the remaining 3 months?

Asked on September 18, 2018 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Your only recourse is to stop paying; the landlord can sue you for the remaining rent due under the lease, if he/she deems it worthwhile; you would then defend in court on the basis that you have seen no evidence of any effort to mitigate (reduce) damages (amount owed), which the obligation to re-rent; the landlord then has the chance to demonstrate or show what they have been doing (e.g. getting a listing agent, advertising it online, etc.); the court will then decide if they made reasonable efforts (all they have to do is make reasonable efforts--they don't have to succeed, just try reasonably); if the court feels they did not, it can let you out of your obligation; if it feels the landlord did make a reasonable effort, it would order you to pay.


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