How can I terminate a lease early due to a relocation?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

How can I terminate a lease early due to a relocation?

I am renting a condo and relocating out of state. I signed up for a 1 year lease and nothing is stated in the contract about termination. I have 7 months left. From speaking to the landlord and also searching on-line, it seems like I have no way to get out of the contract early. The landlord doesn’t seem very interested in helping to find a replacement tenant; I gave him 3 months notice but he says I am obliged to pay rent until the end of the contract. If this is true then clearly he has no motivation to help me out until the end of the contract. Do I have any options?

Asked on February 2, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Washington

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The landlord has a duty to mitigate (minimize) damages and cannot allow the rental to remain vacant for the balance of the term of your lease without making reasonable efforts to find another tenant.  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.  Damages means the amount of compensation the landlord is claiming that you owe for breaking the lease.

Once the place is re-rented, your obligation to pay rent ends.  However, if the new tenant is paying less rent than you were paying, you would be liable for the difference in rent for the remainder of your lease.  The landlord would have to have a valid reason for charging the new tenant lower rent or the landlord has failed to mitigate damages and the landlord's damages would be reduced accordingly.  Market conditions would be a valid reason for charging the new tenant less rent.

As for finding a new tenant, the landlord has to make reasonable efforts to do so in order to mitigate damages.  Reasonable efforts would be determined by what other landlords in the area are doing to attract new tenants such as posting a sign on the property advertising the vacancy, advertising the rental in the newspaper or in a local rental guide or online.

If the landlord allows the place to remain vacant for the balance of the term of your lease without making reasonable efforts to find another tenant and the landlord sues you for the rent for the remaining months on your lease, your defense is that the landlord failed to mitigate damages and therefore the landlord's damages should be reduced accordingly.


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.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption