If my landlord goes into my apartment and leaves it unlocked, does that void the lease?

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If my landlord goes into my apartment and leaves it unlocked, does that void the lease?

I moved out of my apartment a couple months ago but I am still stuck in the lease for another 2 months. Since I moved out the landlord has been in my apartment, unplugged the frig and left the door unlocked so other people can go into the apartment that I am still responsible for. I even told him that his workers have been in there and the door was unlocked. He said he was going to lock the door but never did. There is a clause in the lease that says he can go in the apartment for repairs and to show but leaving the door unlocked has to void the lease, right?

Asked on January 22, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Minnesota

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The landlord leaving the door unlocked will not invalidate your lease.

Your obligation to pay rent ends when the place is re-rented or until your lease ends.  The landlord cannot allow the apartment to remain vacant until your lease ends without making reasonable efforts to find a new tenant.  If the landlord fails to make reasonable efforts to attract a new tenant, the landlord has failed to mitigate (minimize) damages and the landlord's damages will be reduced accordingly.  Damages means the amount the landlord is claiming you owe.  Reasonable efforts on the part of the landlord to find a new tenant would be determined by what other landlords in the area are doing to attract tenants.  For example, posting a sign on the property advertising the vacancy, advertising in the newspaper or in a local rental guide or online, etc.  If the landlord finds a new tenant prior to the expiration of your lease, but the new tenant is paying less than you were in rent, you would remain liable for the difference in rent until your lease expires.  However, in order to mitigate (minimize) damages, the landlord must have a valid reason for charging the new tenant less rent than you were paying.  For example, market conditions would be a valid reason for the lower rent charged to the new tenant.


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