CanI break my lease do to a hardship like being unemployed?

UPDATED: Oct 12, 2010

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CanI break my lease do to a hardship like being unemployed?

Asked on October 12, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Delaware


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

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

A lease is a binding contract. However, in some leases and/or under certain state laws such provisions for terminating a lease early due to unemployment is allowed/mandated.  You need to review the terms of your lease.  See if there are any possible ways out.  You can then place a quick call into Legal Aid to find out the law in your state. If all else fails, you should speak to your landlord and see if they may offer you a solution.

If you cannot legally get out of your lease, you will be responsible for all remaining rental payments.  However, landlords do have a duty to "mitigate" damages"; that is to minimize their damages by re-letting the premises.  This means that if you break the lease, he or she has to advertise the place to try to find a new tenant, and if or once they do, they have to let you out of the remainder of the term. 

You can assist your landlord in finding a new tenant; maybe a friend or someone from work?  If you find a suitable tenant, the landlord would have to take them.  Or perhaps, if your lease allows or the landlord will permit, you can try to sublet. Thus, even as you are paying the landlord rent, someone else is paying you.  You can more easily accomplish this by subletting to your sub-tenant for less than what you pay.  You then will make up this difference.  Granted, it's not the perfect solution but getting something from a sub-tenant is better than getting nothing from no tenant.

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 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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