If isigned a lease but never moved in, what should I do?

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If isigned a lease but never moved in, what should I do?

In 03/09 I signed a lease for a house in UT where I was planning to attend school. I also sent a check for first months rent and a deposit (rent ($305=rent $200=deposit). I was not able to move because I was having financial difficulties. I contacted the landlord about a week before I was suppose to be moving into the house with 5 other girls, who were all on separate leases. The landlord informed me that I was going to have to pay the rent until another tenant was found. I paid the rent for October and November but I have not been able to pay rent since then.

Asked on October 14, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Missouri

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Is your tenancy month-to-month?  If it was month-to-month, you could have given thirty days written notice to terminate the tenancy and end your obligation to pay rent after that thirty day period.  If you signed a lease for a year, you would be obligated to pay the rent for that year until the landlord found another tenant.  Even if your lease was for an entire year, the landlord would have to make reasonable efforts to find another tenant.  The landlord could not simply collect rent from you for the entire year without making reasonable efforts to find a replacement tenant.  The landlord has to mitigate (minimize) damages by making a reasonable effort to find a replacement tenant.  Failure to mitigate damages would reduce the landlord's damages accordingly.  What constitutes a reasonable effort on the part of the landlord to find another tenant would be determined by what other landlords in the area do to attract tenants such as advertising the vacant rental in the newspaper, a rental guide, posting a vacancy sign outside the apartment building, etc.

If the landlord files a lawsuit against you for the rent for the balance of the term of your lease, you would want to raise this issue of mitigation of damages and determine what if anything the landlord has done to try to find another tenant.  The landlord cannot allow the apartment to remain vacant for the balance of the term without making reasonable efforts to find another tenant.


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