I paid the landlord a 3 month penalty for breaking the lease early. Can I recover that money if he finds a new tenant immediately? Double-dipping?

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I paid the landlord a 3 month penalty for breaking the lease early. Can I recover that money if he finds a new tenant immediately? Double-dipping?

Asked on June 20, 2009 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Maybe.  The way it works is the following:

1. Does your contract state 3 month penalty? If so, that penalty is to cover the empty apartment -- theoretically it would take 3 months to find a new tenant?

2. The landlord must mitigate his or her damages. Meaning, he or she must advertise and truly attempt to find a tenant to replace your lease. If he or she finds someone month 1 or 2 and you are already gone, then you need only pay the 1 or 2 months rent because that is how much the landlord is out plus anything from your security for reasonable wear and tear and itemized bill of repairs, cleaning costs, etc.

3. Remember, you can always ask your landlord if he or she will allow the surrender of the lease without penalty, as well.


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