IfI am renting to someone and they move out without any notice and do not bring the keys to me, are they still responsible for the rent?

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IfI am renting to someone and they move out without any notice and do not bring the keys to me, are they still responsible for the rent?

Asked on January 23, 2012 under Real Estate Law, South Carolina

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

When a tenant moves out without giving the required notice, the tenant remains liable for the rent for the balance of the term of the lease or until the place is re-rented.  As a landlord, you have a duty to mitigate (minimize) damages and cannot allow the rental to remain vacant until the end of the tenant's lease without making reasonable efforts to find another tenant.  Damages means the amount you are trying to recover from the tenant.  Reasonable efforts on the part of a landlord to find another tenant would be determined by what other landlords in the area are doing to attract tenants.  For example, posting a sign on the property advertising the vacancy, advertising the rental in a newspaper or in a local rental guide or online, etc.  If you make reasonable efforts to find another tenant and are unsuccessful, the tenant remains liable for the rent for the balance of the term of the lease.  If you re-rent the place before the end of the former tenant's lease and the rent is less than what the former tenant was paying, the former tenant remains liable for the difference in rent for the balance of the term of the former tenant's lease.  In order to mitigate (minimize) damages, a landlord needs a valid reason to charge less rent to the new tenant than the former tenant was paying.  Market conditions would be a valid reason. 
Again, the landlord has to mitigate damages or the landlord's damages will be reduced accordingly. 


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