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

UPDATED: Jan 18, 2011

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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


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

Answered 12 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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