Landlord's Duty to Rerent When a Tenant Breaks a Lease

Find out which states require landlords to take reasonable efforts find a new tenant (to rerent), rather than simply do nothing and expect a vacating tenant to pay rent through the end of the lease term.

A lease covers a fixed period of time, such as one year, and obligates the tenant to pay rent for the entire lease term. Some states allow a tenant to break a lease and leave early in specified circumstances, such as in a domestic violence situation, or to enter military service. And many states require landlords to take reasonable efforts find a new tenant (to rerent), rather than simply do nothing and expect the vacating tenant to pay rent through the end of the lease term. The legal name for this landlord responsibility to rerent is the "duty to mitigate damages." This chart provides some basic information on state laws on the subject. Read your state statute (or relevant court case) for the specific rules in your state. The citation is provided here, and you can visit the Library of Congress's legal research site for links to state statutes and judicial decisions.

Landlord’s Duty to Rerent

State

Legal authority

Must make reasonable efforts to rerent

Has no duty to look for or rent to a new tenant

Law is unclear or courts are divided on the issue

Alabama

Ala. Code §§ 35-9A-105, 35-9A-423

X

Alaska

Alaska Stat. § 34.03.230(c)

X

Arizona

Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 33-1370

X

Arkansas

Weingarten/Arkansas, Inc. v. ABC Interstate Theatres, Inc., 811 S.W.2d 295 (Ark. 1991)

X

California

Cal. Civ. Code § 1951.2

X

Colorado

Schneiker v. Gordon, 732 P.2d 603 (Colo. 1987)

X1

Connecticut

Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 47a-11a

X

Delaware

25 Del. Code Ann. § 5507(d)(2)

X

District of

Columbia

Intl Comm’n on English Liturgy v. Schwartz, 573 A.2d 1303 (D.C. 1990)

X2

Florida

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 83.595

X3

Georgia

Peterson v. Midas Realty Corp., 287 S.E.2d 61 (Ga. Ct. App. 1981)

X

Hawaii

Haw. Rev. Stat. § 521-70 (d)

X

Idaho

Consol. Ag v. Rangen, Inc., 128 Idaho 228 (Idaho 1996)

X

Illinois

735 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/9-213.1

X

Indiana

Nylen v. Park Doral Apartments, 535 N.E.2d. 178 (Ind. Ct. App. 1989)

X

Iowa

Iowa Code § 562A.29 (3)

X

Kansas

Kan. Stat. Ann. § 58-2565(c)

X

Kentucky

Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 383.670

X

Louisiana

La. Civ. Code § 2002, Gray v. Kanavel, 508 So.2d 970 (La. Ct. App. 1987)

X4

X

Maine

14 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 6010-A

X

Maryland

Md. Code Ann., [Real Prop.] § 8-207

X

Massachusetts

Edmands v. Rust & Richardson Drug Co., 191 Mass. 123, 128 (1906) and assorted other cases

Booklet from MA.gov says LL has a duty to mitigate: www.mass.gov/ocabr/docs/landlordrights.pdf. Ditto from MassLegal Help: www.mass.gov/ocabr/docs/landlordrights. pdf. But the Supreme Court has not yet ruled definitively.

X

X

Michigan

Fox v. Roethlisberger, 85 N.W.2d 73 (Mich. 1957)

X

Minnesota

Control Data Corp. v. Metro Office Parks Co., 296 Minn. 302 (Minn. 1973)

X

Mississippi

Alsup v. Banks, 9 So. 895 (Miss. 1891)

X5

Missouri

Rhoden Inv. Co. v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 499 S.W.2d 375 (Mo. 1973), Mo. Rev. Stat. § 535.300

X6

Montana

Mont. Code Ann. § 70-24-426

X

Nebraska

Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-1432

X

Nevada

Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 118.175

X

New

Hampshire

Wen v. Arlens, Inc., 103 A.2d 86 (N.H. 1954), Modular Mfg., Inc. v. Dernham Co., 65 B.R. 856 (Bankr. D. N.H. 1986)

X

New Jersey

Sommer v. Kridel, 378 A.2d 767 (N.J. 1977)

X

New Mexico

N.M. Stat. Ann. § 47-8-6

X

New York

Rios v. Carrillo, 53 AD3d 111, 115 (2nd Dept., 2008); Gordon v. Raymond Eshaghoff, 60 AD3d 807, 2009 WL 711546 (2nd Dept., decided March 17, 2009) and Smith v. James, 22 Misc. 3d 128

(A) (Supreme Court, Appellate Term, 9th & 10th Dist., 2009)

X

North Carolina

Isbey v. Crews, 284 S.E.2d 534 (N.C. Ct. App. 1981)

X

North Dakota

N.D. Cent. Code § 47-16-13.5

X

Ohio

Stern v. Taft, 361 N.E.2d 279 (Ct. App. 1976)

X7

Oklahoma

41 Okla. Stat. Ann. § 129

X

Oregon

Or. Rev. Stat. § 90.410

X

Pennsylvania

Stonehedge Square Ltd. P’ship v. Movie Merchs., 715 A.2d 1082 (Pa. 1998)

X

Rhode Island

R.I. Gen. Laws § 34-18-40

X

South Carolina

S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-730 (c)

X

South Dakota

No cases or statutes in South Dakota discuss this issue.

X

Tennessee

Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-507 (c)

X8

Texas

Tex. Prop. Code Ann. § 91.006

X

Utah

Utah Code Ann. § 78B-6-816, Reid v. Mutual of Omaha Ins. Co., 776 P.2d 896 (Utah 1989)

X

Vermont

9 Vt. Stat. Ann. § 4462

X

Virginia

Va. Code Ann. §§ 55-248.33, 55-248.35

X

Washington

Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 59.18.310

X9

West Virginia

W.Va. Code § 37-6-7, Teller v. McCoy, 253 S.E.2d 114 (W.Va. 1978)

X

Wisconsin

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 704.29

X

Wyoming

Goodwin v. Upper Crust, Inc., 624 P.2d 1192 (1981)

X

1 Case law is not dispositive, but state practice seems to require mitigation. See ColoradoLegalServices.org (“Breaking a Lease—What You Need to Know”).

2 Despite this legal authority, DC attorneys report that judges take failure to mitigate into consideration when ascertaining the landlord’s damages. (District of Columbia)

3 Landlord has the option of rerenting, standing by and doing nothing (tenant remains liable for rent as it comes due), or invoking its right to a liquidated damages, or early termination, provision. Latter remedy is available only if the lease includes a liquidated damages addendum, or addition, that provides for no more than two months’ damages and requires tenant to give no more than 60 days’ notice. Liquidated damages provision must substantially include specified language in Fl. Stat. Ann. § 83.595. (Florida)

4 Court decisions are uniform although more recent decisions appear to require mitigation. (Louisiana)

5 Many Miss. attorneys believe this old case is not sound authority, and that a trial judge would find a duty to mitigate in spite of it. (Mississippi)

6 Landlord must mitigate only if intending to use tenant’s security deposit to cover future unpaid rent. (Missouri)

7 Duty to mitigate applies in absence of any clause that purports to relieve the landlord of this duty (courts must enforce this clause). (Ohio)

8 Applies only to counties having a population of more than 75,000, according to the 2010 federal census or any subsequent federal census. (See Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-102). (Tennessee)

9 Detailed procedures must be followed when premises are vacant due to tenant’s death. (See Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 59.18.595.) (Washington)

Updated: November 2017

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