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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    2

    Default Broke Lease Early, Landlord Seeking Rent Until End of Lease Term

    My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: VA

    I posted this on another forum so I'll paste it in here as well:

    First off, I know that I need to get a lawyer, I just wanted to see if I could feel out what my chances are here.
    Long story short, I moved overseas for a job back in October 2010. I was in a year lease with my landlord at the time (in the state of VA) until May of 2011. I notified my landlord of the upcoming move as soon as I found out (roughly 30 days before) and we verbally agreed (I know..) that he would keep my 1-month's rent retainer and I would pay to replace the living room carpet (my girlfriend took it out) and I'd be good to go.
    Later on, after I've moved overseas, I get a letter from my landlord stating that he can't get the place rented out and I have to pay. A couple correspondences go back and forth (I basically say - I'm consulting a lawyer on this because I'm not qualified to answer) and nothing really comes of it, I don't hear from him for awhile. Recently I get a letter showing how much I 'owe' and a letter from his lawyer stating he's collecting the debt.
    It's my understanding that if there is no stipulation in the lease about breaking it (there isn't), if a renter has to break the lease, he is bound to pay until the end of the contract and the landlord is bound to seek new tenants. I don't believe he's been seeking tenants, or at least not very well given that it's been 5 months and he hasn't found one. He hasn't even asked for reimbursement for the carpet replacement until yesterday..so how hard could he possibly be seeking tenants? How does the process work from here? He's sought a lawyer to collect debt, but from what I see no judgment has been sought yet - he has to file a suit in court first, right? And I assume that's where he has to prove that he's been seeking tenants to mitigate damages (whatever that entails).

    Thanks for any help in advance and if more information is needed I will provide it.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,867

    Default Re: Broke Lease Early, Landlord Seeking Rent Until End of Lease Term

    yes, if sued and you demand proof of his attempt to mitigate damages, in court would be the place. Until then it is simply his claim.

    btw: putting an ad in the local paper is considered advertising and would be considered his attempt to mitigate his damages. Unless you can prove he intentionally refused qualified applicants, as long as he made some attempt to advertise the unit, you will lose on that point.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Broke Lease Early, Landlord Seeking Rent Until End of Lease Term

    In short, there's very little I can do if the landlord is willing to go to court and seek a judgment against me. I know he has made *some* attempt to rent the unit out, but not for 3 months after I initially told him I would be leaving the country.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,867

    Default Re: Broke Lease Early, Landlord Seeking Rent Until End of Lease Term

    If there was no action taken for 3 months, you might be able to argue he did not take reasonable efforts to mitigate his damages. A judge might accept that as a failure on the LL's part and deny his claim.

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