If my mother recently passed away, how can we legally break her lease?

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If my mother recently passed away, how can we legally break her lease?

My mother rented in the same apartment complex for 4+ years. A new lease was signed on 12/01/10 and co-signed by my sister. My mother passed away 01/10/11. The landlord said that we are responsible for the rent until the apartment is re-rented. The lease states the landlord can terminate the lease under extenuating circumstances. Wouldn’t death be considered an extenuating circumstance?

Asked on January 18, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Indiana

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

My understanding is that under IN law, a person's estate has the same obligation to pay rent as the tenant.  The provision that you noted, gives the landlord the right to cancel a lease but not the obligation.  However without reviewing the exact wording of the lease, its hard to say for sure.  What you shoulddo right now is to consult with a real estate attorney as to your situation (be sure to bring a copy of the lease with you).

Note:  As you are aware, a landlord has a duty to "mitigate" damages; this means that they have to make reasonable efforts to re-rent t he premises.  As such time as the premises ware rel-leased, a tenant (i  the os case your mother's estate) is released from any further rental oblofation.


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