In an earlier blog, we addressed the situations where you can legally terminate a lease before the end of its term without being responsible for the remaining months. But what if none of those situations is applicable? Can your landlord just let the property sit vacant (without making any effort to find a new tenant) and demand payment from you every month?
The Landlord’s Duty to Mitigate Damages
For tenants in New Jersey, there’s good news. Under the common law in New Jersey, a landlord must take reasonable steps to find a replacement tenant, regardless of why you broke the lease. The important word is “reasonable” and it applies to both the time frame when the landlord initiates actions to re-rent the property and the actual methods the landlord uses. It’s not necessarily expected that the landlord will take out advertisements and post signs the day you give notice of your departure. However, if there’s a dispute about the time the landlord took to begin the process, a court will ask whether it was reasonable.
The landlord does not need to change the terms of the lease simply to find a tenant. For example, there’s no requirement that the landlord lower the monthly rent or lower credit standards. In addition, your landlord can charge you for any costs of re-renting the apartment.
It’s important to understand that you are technically liable for the rent due for the remainder of the lease term. However, any rent that your landlord receives from another tenant must offset any amount you still owe on the lease.
At the Cintron Firm, LLC, we offer more than 14 years of experience to people in New Jersey facing a broad array of legal challenges. Attorney Mark Cintron has worked as a prosecutor and has extensive courtroom experience, so he’s always ready, willing and able to protect your interests before a judge or jury. Contact our office online or call us at 201-791-1333 or 917-494-5695 to set up an appointment.