Real estate Q&A: My landlord is making it harder to leave lease early. What are my options?

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Early termination of your lease might mean you are responsible for the amount of time the unit is vacant and the landlord's expenses in getting the apartment ready for the new tenant. - Darren Fisher/Dreamstime/TNS

Q: I am moving out of my rental apartment a few months early to move in with my special someone. I gave plenty of notice to my landlord to find a new tenant, and they are not doing anything. Now they are giving me grief about scheduling the moving truck, and I am beginning to regret trying to do it the “right” way. What should I do? — Andres

A: It sounds like you are trying your best to make this as easy as you can for your landlord. Instead of trying to work with you to make this early departure better for themselves, your landlord seems to want to punish you a bit for terminating the lease early.

Generally, your landlord will have to “mitigate its damages” by trying to find a replacement tenant to put in the unit. Due to your early termination, you are responsible for the amount of time the unit is vacant and their expenses in getting the apartment ready for the new tenant.

Check the exact language in your lease agreement to see if it contains any special clauses covering your situation. While it usually does not, once in a while, I review a lease with favorable language covering this scenario.

If your landlord does not make reasonable efforts to find a new tenant, he could lose the ability to collect the missing rent from you. The law will not reward someone for standing by when he could have reduced the harm and will, therefore, reduce the amount of money he is due from the party who caused the problem.

Everyone should work to make a bad situation better, or at least not let it become worse than it has to be. So while your landlord is not technically required to get a new tenant quickly, if he does not, the amount of rent you owe due to breaking the lease early would be reduced.

My advice to you is to continue to try to move out nicely. Cooperate with showing your apartment to prospective tenants and fill out some forms regarding your moving company, but not to the point where you are being walked over or punished.



Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.


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