If my daughter signed a year lease on an apartment but the next day she lost her job, what are her legal options?

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If my daughter signed a year lease on an apartment but the next day she lost her job, what are her legal options?

She immediatly went to the manager. She said they could keep the $645 she had already given them, plus the washer and dryer she had bought if they would let her out of the lease.They said no. She just called today and told them that she had been denied unemployment and was not going to be able to pay any more rent and their response was “well, what are you going to do about it?”. She has no money and we are not on the lease. What can she do?

Asked on April 25, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Oregon

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, your daughter is liable for the rent for the one year lease.  However, her obligation to pay rent ends when the apartment is re-rented.  The landlord cannot allow the apartment to remain vacant for an entire year.  The landlord has to mitigate (minimize) damages (the amount the landlord is claiming your daughter owes) by making reasonable efforts to find another tenant.  Reasonable efforts by 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 a newspaper, online, in a local rental guide, etc.

If the landlord does not make reasonable efforts to find another tenant, the landlord has failed to mitigate damages and the landlord's damages will be reduced accordingly.

When the landlord re-rents the apartment, your daughter's obligation to pay rent ends as mentioned above, but if the new tenant is being charged less rent than your daughter, your daughter may be liable for the difference in rent for the balance of the term of her lease.  The landlord has to have a valid reason for charging the new tenant less 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 your daughter should not be liable for the difference in rent.


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