What is my liability if I terminatedmy lease early?

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What is my liability if I terminatedmy lease early?

I had to move due to a work transfer more than 500 miles away. I signed an exit agreement after my landlord told me they would find a replacement tenant easily by February as the apartment was the only one of it’s kind left. This did not happen and now they are demanding rent for that month. I tried to give earlier notice so they would have more time to find another tenant but they declined the earlier notice. Do I have to pay for February? I did sign the agreement stating that I would pay until end of February but that was based on their warranty.

Asked on June 12, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Kansas

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A tenant who does not give the required notice for terminating a lease remains liable for the rent until  the apartment has been re-rented.  Although it is possible the tenant could remain liable for the rent for the balance of the term of the lease if a new tenant does not rent the place, the landlord cannot allow the apartment to remain vacant for the balance of the term of the lease without making reasonable efforts to find a new tenant.  If the landlord fails to mitigate (minimize) damages by allowing the apartment to remain vacant for the balance of the term without making reasonable efforts to find another tenant, the landlord's damages (monetary compensation) will be reduced accordingly.  Reasonable efforts by a landlord to re-rent the apartment will be determined by what other landlords in the vicinity are doing to attract tenants; for example, posting a sign on the premises of the available rental. advertising in the newspaper or local rental guide, etc.

When the landlord re-rents the apartment, your obligation to pay rent is terminated.  However, if the new tenant is paying less rent than you were paying, you will remain liable for the disparity in rent for the balance of the term of your lease.  As mentioned, the landlord has a duty to mitigate damages and would need a good reason why the new tenant is being charged less rent and you are being held liable for the disparity in rent for the balance of the term of your original lease.  Again, if the landlord fails to mitigate damages, the landlord's damages will be reduced accordingly.

Since you signed the agreement regarding payment of rent for Feb., you are bound by the terms of that agreement and remain liable for the Feb. rent.


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