What is a landlord’s liability for cancelling a lease prior to tenants moving in?

UPDATED: Apr 26, 2011

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What is a landlord’s liability for cancelling a lease prior to tenants moving in?

I am a landlord and my property manager and future tenants signed a lease (which I never signed). I was dissatisfied with the work that was supposed to have been done on the unit so I cancelled the contract with the Property Manager, paying him $606for an unoccupied property. Cancellation occurred 40 days prior to the tenants occupying, giving them enough time to find another place. I offered to pay them $500 as compensation them for inconvenience. They refused and asked for 1 months rent ($2500). Do I owe them anything?

Asked on April 26, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Colorado


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

This is really sticky situation and your liability will depend on the issue of "agency" in that the property manager was your agent for purposes of the renting of the apartment and how far the agreement went with the two of you.  In other words, did the property manager have the authority to bind you in a contract by signing the lease?  if the manager did not then your liability may not be as high.  If they did then you could be on the hook if the tenants want "specific performance" meaning they want to occupy the apartment.  I honestly think that they are just trying to get as much money from you as they can. Step back and look at the situation s a whole and decide how you want to proceed. Good luck. 

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