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  • Our lease goes from 1/31/17 to 1/31/18.
  • We're closing on a new home next week and don't want anything to do with our current rental (private landlord) as soon after the end of the month as possible.
  • I understand that by signing the lease I am 100% legally and ethically obligated to pay all remaining rent payments. At this point that would be Dec 1 and Jan 1 rent payments.
  • There is no early termination clause (such as forfeit security deposit, etc).

We let the landlords know our situation and asked if they would be willing to show and try to find new tenants starting Dec 1 and that we would pay rent right up until the day the new tenants take over the lease (even if it's mid Jan). They said they would need us to find new tenants for that to work. As tenants we don't have the same abilities to find other tentants as the landlord, so we'll probably pass on this.

  • As a gut check, is my offer reasonable?
  • There are no stipulations in the contract, but could I pay all Dec 1 and Jan 1 rent immediately and be release from the lease early without "breaking" it? This would save us utility bills even though the place is vacant. Having fulfilled our financial obligations by the lease (paying all 12 months) could they refuse to take the keys?
  • Would I be entitled to any refund if they find tenants before Jan 31st, 2018? I know there are some laws about landlord double-dipping on rent payments.
  • If we decide to try to find tenants... any suggestions? Hard to do listings or purchase tenant-finding services when you're not the home-owner...
  • Are there any other options that I'm missing? We just want to be out with minimal cost but also be fair to the landlord.

Thank you for your time!

  • 3
    Where are you renting? If the US, which state? – Hart CO Nov 8 '17 at 2:43
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    I'd call the landlord and see if you can make a deal. Say you agree to pay 1.25% of one month rent and you would move out early. If the market is hot, a wise person would jump on it. They can get 1.25 month rent from you, and potentially close to two month rent from the next tenant. If the market is slow, then it becomes more difficult. – Pete B. Nov 8 '17 at 11:29
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    @PeteB. 1.25%? Don't you mean 125%? Also, to the OP. If you take that route, get it in writing. – mikeazo Nov 8 '17 at 13:17
  • "They said they would need us to find new tenants for that to work. As tenants we don't have the same abilities to find other tentants as the landlord, so we'll probably pass on this." Making an effort to do this is probably your best bet. Consider as one option hiring a realtor to find a rentor on your behalf. Realtors (in my area, anyway) typically charge 1 month of rent to find a renter, so you could in theory get away from the lease saving a month / a month & a half of rent. – Grade 'Eh' Bacon Nov 8 '17 at 13:45
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This would save us utility bills even though the place is vacant.

Why can't you just cancel utilities when you move out? Or are utilities are bundled with the rent?

How can I reduce the remaining rent I have to pay?

http://www.tenantresourcecenter.org/mitigation_for_landlords

"'reasonable efforts' mean those steps that the landlord would have taken to rent the premises if they had been vacated in due course, provided that those steps are in accordance with local rental practice for similar properties" from Wis. Stat. 704.29(2)(a)

That law is from Wisconsin, but all the most other states have similar statutes.

That's why I'd pay one month at a time.

  • Thanks for the reply. The lease states that utilities must remain on until completion of the move-out inspection. I'm not willing to break the lease, but was mostly wondering if the tenant gives notice they are moving out (but continuing to pay) if the landlord is in any way obligated to try to find a new tenant early. I think mitigation only applies when you've abandoned the property (moved out and stopped paying rent). – Caesar Kabalan Nov 8 '17 at 2:26
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    The claim that all other states have similar statutes is false, it is fair to say that most states have similar statutes. – Hart CO Nov 8 '17 at 3:20
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    Cancelling utilities while the lease is technically in effect but the property vacant: if a pipe freezes and bursts in that January, that's going to be a bad scene. – user662852 Nov 8 '17 at 4:36
  • Note that the Wisconsin statute only applies if the tenant actually stops paying rent and breaches the lease. The landlord has no obligation to mitigate if you just ask nicely. – gaefan Nov 8 '17 at 13:39
  • @JeffO'Neill true, but you can be polite when leaving instead of sneaking out just ahead of the Sherrif's deputies evicting you. – RonJohn Nov 8 '17 at 14:07
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Broadly speaking, in the U.S., the landlord is obligated to mitigate damages. That legalese translates into: they have to try to find replacement tenants, in order to reduce the cost to you of your breach of the contract. You’re responsible for their costs in doing this, as well as any shortfall in the rent they receive. You can also look for a replacement tenant, and if you find someone suitable, they can’t arbitrarily reject them; if they do, you’re off the hook.

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