Do I have to pay rent when the lease does not say anything about the penalty for breaking it?

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Do I have to pay rent when the lease does not say anything about the penalty for breaking it?

A landlord is asking me to pay for rent in a home I’m not residing in. We gave 30 days notice when we moved. We signed a 12 month lease, but it doesn’t say that we are obligated to pay the rent if they don’t get new renters. I specifically asked our landlord before moving into that house what would happen if we left early since we were looking at purchasing a home, the only thing she said was that we wouldn’t get our deposit refunded.

Asked on October 18, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Kansas

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A lease is a contract.  If it was to run for 1 year and you terminated it prior to that time, you are responsible for all payments under, unless there is an agreement to the contrary.  Whether or not you can prove what your landlord told you is problematic.  Where there any witnesses? Was this agreement regarding early termination put in writing? A 30 day notice typically only applies to a month-to-month lease.  If you cannot legally get out of your lease, you will be responsible for all remaining rental payments.  However, landlords do have a duty to "mitigate" damages"; that is to minimize their damages by re-letting the premises.  This means that if you break the lease, he or she has to advertise the place to try to find a new tenant, and if or once she does, she will  have to let you out of the remainder of the term.  You can assist your landlord in finding a new tenant; maybe a friend or someone from work?  If you find a suitable tenant, she would have to take them.  Or perhaps, if your lease allows or the landlord will permit, you can try to sublet. Thus, even as you are paying the landlord rent, someone else is paying you.  You can more easily accomplish this by subletting to your sub-tenant for less than what you pay.  You would then have to make-up the difference.  Not a perfect solution but better than nothing.


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