If my mother died 6 months into a lease and she prepaid the whole year, what to is do if the landlordrefusing to return $7,000?

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If my mother died 6 months into a lease and she prepaid the whole year, what to is do if the landlordrefusing to return $7,000?

She was renting a manufactured home in a mobile home park. I flew out there (I’m the executor of her estate) to clean her home out and do the walk through with the landlord (he signed off on everything saying it was great, she had even fixed things that were broken when she moved in). They are saying since she broke the lease, they get to keep the deposit and remaining 6 months rent. Can they do this?

Asked on April 15, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Sorry to hear about your mother.

Unfortunately, death does not terminate a lease.  However, the landlord cannot keep the pre-paid rent and the entire security deposit.  The landlord has to mitigate (minimize) damages by making reasonable efforts to find another tenant.  If the landlord allows the place to remain vacant for the balance of the term of the lease without making reasonable efforts to find another tenant, the landlord has failed to mitigate damages and his damages will be reduced accordingly.  Once the place has been re-rented, your mother's rent obligation ends and the balance of the pre-paid rent should be refunded to you.  Reasonable efforts on the part of the landlord to find a new 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 online or in a local rental guide, etc. 


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