If I rent out my condo and my last tenant moved out a month early so I lost that month’s rent, are they liable for the missed month’s rent?

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If I rent out my condo and my last tenant moved out a month early so I lost that month’s rent, are they liable for the missed month’s rent?

My last tenant announced he was moving out a month early. I didn’t specify anything about him owning me if I didn’t find a tenant right away. I have now missed one month’s rent since the next tenant will not move in until the following month. Also, my prior tenant breached the contract upon move-out by changing the locks (he was a difficult and hostile tenant).

Asked on July 24, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Hawaii

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If there was a written lease and the lease was up in a given month, but the tenant moved out a month earlier than the lease expiration, then the tenant is liable for the last month's rent: tenants have to pay rent for the entirey of the (written) contracted term or, if they move out early, until the landlord re-rents the unit, whichever comes first. And if a tenant changes the locks, he is liable for the cost to re-key them again. If you had a security deposit from the tenant, you could take the lock cost and last month's rent out of the deposit; if you did not, then you could sue him (such as in small claims court, acting as your own attorney, or pro se) for the money.


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