Q: Can we be held to remaining rent payments if landlord puts house on market rather than trying to re-rent?
We moved 250 miles due to job relocation 6 months prior to lease end (2 year lease). Landlord is holding us to remaining rent payments. We don't like it, but we did sign the lease, and have resigned ourselves to living with the consequences.
I've read that landlord is legally obligated to make an effort to re-rent the house, but he has decided to try and sell rather than look for another tenant.
What if a buyer signs contract, but with financing, inspections, etc. it's months before closing? Do we have to pay up until the closing date?
Is the owner obligated to tell us they have a contract?
What if they can't sell? I think it's more likely they would find a tenant faster then a buyer.
I understand it's their right to sell, but do we have any recourse in regard to remaining rent payments?
Hello Sir or Ma'am, North Carolina law states that the landlord has a duty to mitigate his damages after a breach of a lease. The law does not force a landlord to rent to the next available tenant, or to rent at all. However, if the landlord wishes to enjoy the benefit of the breached lease and receive rental payments when no tenant resides in the house, they would have to "mitigate their damages."
The North Carolina case of Isbey v. Crews (1981) states that "if the landlord fails to use such reasonable diligence, his recovery as against the tenant will be limited to the difference between what he would have received had the lease agreement been performed, and the fair market value of what he could have received had he used reasonable diligence to mitigate."
A viable argument could be made that the landlord would have to re-rent or forego collecting from the breaching tenant. If they decide to put the rental home for sale, that is their decision to not mitigate damages. You should seek the advise of a local landlord-tenant attorney who would be able to review your lease, assess the actions of all parties, and explain the cost/benefit of arguing that mitigation of damages is not occurring. Good Luck.
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