What to do if my landlord wants me to pay the rest of the rent for a lease but I moved out 7 months ago?

UPDATED: Apr 3, 2012

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What to do if my landlord wants me to pay the rest of the rent for a lease but I moved out 7 months ago?

I lived in a house with 5 girls before I got a job out of state. I signed the lease because he only wanted one person to. Then when I moved out, I asked him in person to have another girl sign the lease but found out 3 months later he never did. So I sent him a letter formally asking him to take my name off the lease and kept trying to contact him to set up a time for him to go over there. He never responded. Now all the girls moved out, trying to to screw me over and he says I owe him 4 months more of rent that I don’t have. I don’t know what to do.

Asked on April 3, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Indiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you had a written lease, you were obligated to pay rent for the entire term of the lease--you had no right to be taken off the lease or escape your obligations, or to require the landlord to replace you with another tenant. Thefore, from what you write, unless the lease itself provided for early termination (for example, on proper notice), the landlord may hold you accountable for rent for the entire remaining balance of the lease term, after you moved out.

The landlord did have a duty to try to mitigate, or minimize, his losses by finding a new renter once you moved out. Of course, the landlord is not guaranteed to find someone who will rent the space--his only obligation is to make the effort. If you can show that he did not in fact try--for example, you can show that there was someone who wanted to rent, but the landlord did not let him or her--you can reduce what you would otherwise owe the landlord, since you would not owe rent past the point where the landlord could have replaced you as tenant. But if the landlord did try to replace you (e.g. worked with brokers; placed ads; etc.) but could not find a suitable renter, the landlord may, as discussed above, seek rent for the full balance of the lease term from you.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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