I recently broke a lease due to a child’s medical reasons. I sent my letter of vacating in October but paid rent for October and November. In October they said it was rerented and to return my keys and they took it off the rental website. Wouldn’t this mean someone would have had to sign a lease? If so wouldn’t they now be responsible and my lease would no longer be valid?
You are (probably, depending on your state) correct.
in most states landlords cannot simply sit back and wait for the term to end, then sue you for the months you weren’t there. They must take reasonable steps to rerent the place and credit that rent to your debt. This duty goes by a mouthful of words—“the landlord’s duty to mitigate damages.”
This tenant-friendly rule has some limitations, however:
- You may still be responsible for the costs of advertising and showing the unit.
- Your landlord must take reasonable steps to rerent, not heroic ones. He needn’t put your unit at the top of his list of properties to rent, and he doesn’t have to offer it for a song.
- The landlord needn’t accept any old applicant who walks in the door. He’s entitled to be as choosy with the next tenant as he was with you. Still, you can help the situation a lot by offering your landlord a replacement tenant, someone who has the same good credit and rental history that you did (or better).
If the courthouse is on the horizon, you’ll have to have some proof that the landlord failed to mitigate. Be smart and, after you leave, collect evidence of the landlord’s efforts in the rerental department (or ask a friend in the area to do so). Find out whether the landlord advertised (check the rental ads for a month or so), showed the unit (ask the neighbors), rented comparable units but not yours, or in fact rented the unit and is now attempting to double-dip.