How quickly must a landlord re-rent a room to mitigate damages?

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How quickly must a landlord re-rent a room to mitigate damages?

I am renting a room in my home on a month-to -month basis, charging 1 month’s rent at a time. Our most recent roommate moved in on the 1st and paid her 1st month’s rent; she then moved out on the 2nd. I understand we need to re-rent the room ASAPand return the portion of the rent for the time after we find a new tenant (e.g. if we get a new tenant in on the 15th then we pay her back 15 days’ rent). We are also making some improvements to the room to attract tenants, so can we wait until those are done?

Asked on July 10, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Washington

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

In order to mitigate damages, you should re-rent the room within a reasonable period of time.  You can make the improvements to attract tenants prior to re-renting.  The improvements should be completed within a reasonable period of time.

Reasonable efforts to re-rent within a reasonable period of time are required in order to mitigate damages.  The tenant, who did not give proper notice before moving,  is liable for the rent for the balance of the term of the lease until the room is re-rented.  In order to mitigate damages, the landlord cannot allow the room to remain vacant for the balance of the term of the lease or the landlord's damages will be reduced accordingly.

As to what constitutes reasonable time and reasonable efforts to re-rent the room, a factor to consider would be what other landlords in the vicinity are doing to attract new tenants; for example, posting a sign, advertising in local rental publications, etc.


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