Landlords duty to rerent after tenant breaks lease
What are a landlord's duties when it comes to rerenting an apartment after the previous tenant has broken the lease? How soon does a landlord have to get the apartment on the market after receiving notification from the tenant of his/her intent to vacate?
My husband got a job transfer to another state. We were in a 1 year lease that was to end 11/06. We moved out on 9/15/06. We spoke with the landlord as soon as we knew of the move - 3 weeks before. (By the way our landlord resides out of state.) After some back and forth negotiating, they finally agreed to let us out of the lease when they found a new tenant to take over.
We were paying $750 rent, pretty high for the area and house that we were living in. They were having difficulty renting it, when we moved in it had been vacant for several months.
When we left, they listed the house for rent for $775. At $750 it was hard to rent, they will not get anyone for $775 - not in that area or in the condition the house is in (the roof leaks.) They were lucky when we got suckered in - we were very good tenants. We cleaned the place up, hauled off a dump truck of trash, always on time with rent, fixed various small things in the house - leaking faucets, etc.
First question is, can they advertise it for rent for more than we were paying? That will make it more difficult to rent - they have only had 1 person even look at it in the 3 weeks we have been gone.
Second question is, they knew we were moving 3 weeks before we actually moved on 9/15 - yet they did not start advertising for rent until 10/1. Is this right?
Answer on re-renting after breaking a lease?
Too bad you already moved out because if the roof was leaking then you may have been able to use that to your advantage in terms of breaking your lease. We've outlined the procedure for notifying the landlord of repairs that need to be made in our publication below. If you would have notified the landlord and he still refused to fix the problem after a reasonable period of time (laws vary by state as to time limits for repairs - see our publication) then you may have been able to terminate the lease at that point with no further legal liability depending upon the gravity of the problem. At the very least, (especially since the landlord lives out of state), you could have raised so much fuss about it that the landlord may have let you out of the lease.
Upon moving out, I hope you documented the condition of the apartment so you don't get charged for damages that weren't there. Landlords often take revenge on tenants who vacate early - after all, they aren't receiving rent anymore and they might as well get their money somehow. We outline documentation procedures in our publication at the bottom of this page.
Did you sign a lease termination agreement after the landlord rerented the apartment to protect yourself from future claims of unpaid rent? What if the new tenants skip town? The landlord may come back on you for rent that came due during your rental term?
As to your first question, the landlord can advertise the property for more than you rented it for but you may have an argument that the landlord did not make a reasonable effort to rerent the premises because of this. Such an argument could preclude you from further liability. See our publication at the web site below for more details.
In our publication at the web site below, we advise tenants seeking to break a lease of a procedure where they can reduce their liability significantly and help get the apartment rented out much quicker. We just came upon it and included it at the back of the publication in Appendix II. If the landlord refuses to comply with this procedure, the tenant has an argument to reduce their liability even if the apartment was not rerented.
As to your second question, the landlord should have started making efforts to rerent the apartment asap. See our publication at the web site below for how to ensure that the landlord is making such efforts. Thanks for your question and good luck!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andy Ruzicho and Eric Willison practice landlord tenant law. More information on how to get out of your lease can be found at www.getoutoflease.com