What to do if I lost my job and cannot afford rent any longer?

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What to do if I lost my job and cannot afford rent any longer?

I lost my job 3 months after renting an apartment. I have been struggling since (car facing reposession, etc). Although I am working now, I am making less than half of what I used to and can no longer pay all of my bills. I have 3 months left on my lease which states that I would have to pay a $1550 early termination fee (which is 2 months rent). Do I still have to pay the remainder of the rent?

Asked on April 20, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, you are liable for the rent for the balance of the term of your lease.  If you move out before the end of your lease, you will be liable for the rent for the balance of the term of the lease or until the place is re-rented.  If you move out early, the landlord has to mitigate (minimize) damages by making reasonable efforts to find another tenant.  The landlord cannot allow the rental to remain vacant without making reasonable efforts to find another tenant.  If the landlord allows the rental to remain vacant without making reasonable efforts to find another tenant, the landlord's damages (the amount of compensation the landlord is seeking to recover from you) 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 premises advertising the vacancy, advertising the rental in the newspaper, in a local rental guide, online, etc.

Once the place is re-rented, your obligation to pay rent ends; however, if the landlord is charging less rent to the new tenant, you would be liable for the difference in rent between what you paid and what the new tenant is charged for the balance of the term of your lease.  The landlord has to have a valid reason for charging the new tenant lower rent such as market conditions.  If the landlord does not have a valid reason for charging the new tenant less rent, the landlord has failed to mitigate damages and the landlord's damages will be reduced accordingly and you may not be liable for the difference in rent.


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