If my husband got laid off and we can’t afford rent anymore, can we be entitle to break our 1 year lease after 7 months?

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If my husband got laid off and we can’t afford rent anymore, can we be entitle to break our 1 year lease after 7 months?

Asked on April 18, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Illinois

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, your financial situation would not constitute legal grounds for breaking the lease.

If you break the lease, you will remain liable for the rent for the balance of the term of the lease or until the place is re-rented.  Once the place is re-rented, your obligation to pay rent ends.  The landlord cannot allow the rental to remain vacant for the balance of the term of your lease without making reasonable efforts to find another tenant.  If the landlord does not make reasonable efforts to find another tenant, and allows the rental to remain vacant for the balance of the term of your lease, the landlord will have failed to mitigate (minimize) damages (the amount the landlord is claiming you owe) and damages will be reduced accordingly. 

Reasonable efforts on the part of the landlord to find another tenant will 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, local rental guide, online, etc.  The landlord is required to mitigate damages by making reasonable efforts to find another tenant.

Although your obligation to pay rent ends when the place is re-rented, if the landlord is charging a lower rent to the new tenant, you may be liable for the difference in rent for the balance of the term of your lease.  The landlord has to have a valid reason for charging lower rent to the new tenant such as market conditions.  If the landlord does not have a valid reason for charging lower rent to the new tenant, the landlord has failed to mitigate damages and you are not liable for the difference in rent for the balance of the term of your lease.


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