What can I do if I’m a tenant who must move out early because my business failed but my landlord refuses to try and re-let the space?

UPDATED: Jul 6, 2015

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What can I do if I’m a tenant who must move out early because my business failed but my landlord refuses to try and re-let the space?

I had a store front that I operated for 2 years. It was a 3 year lease. I just couldn’t make it work anymore and ran out of money. I thought my landlord would just rerent (great spot) but he’s chosen to demand that I pay all future rent and informed me that he has no legal obligation to mitigate. He said that was for residential landlords. Is that true? Am I just out the next year’s rent because he is holding some kind of grudge for me moving out early or is there anything I can do? I gave him 40 days notice and it’s been 3 months now. Still no sign or ads.

Asked on July 6, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Missouri


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

He is both right and wrong: right in that you are liable for all rent due for the remaining length or duration of the lease; but wrong in that commercial landlords do have a duty to *try* to mitigate damages by re-renting. He has to make a reasonable effort, and if he doesn't even try, a judge might reduce how much he could recover from you (e.g. a judge could arbitrarily decide that had the landlord tried, he'd have re-rented it in four months, so only allow him to collect another four months of rent); but his only obligation is to try. If he does try but no one rents, he can get the money from you; he can force you to pay (if he sues you) what you would have paid for the balance of the term or until he does re-rent it (assuming he's making an effort), whichever occurs first.

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