Bend, OR asked in Contracts and Landlord - Tenant for Oregon

Q: In Oregon state, if breaking a lease (90+ days before move-in), what is the landlord's obligation to find a new tenant?

Rental is an apartment building, whose manager claims there is a waitlist to get in. However, they will not advertise nor communicate lease takeover availability to the waitlist, because they are charging higher rent than what's in the lease. Lease was signed 10 months before move-in date. Manager wants both a $500 fee for processing a new tenant, and for the lease-breaking tenant to provide a new tenant, or else they will pursue the full 12 months' rent. We understood that the landlord, in Oregon, is required to take "reasonable" steps to market/re-rent the property before they can get rent from the lease-breaker. Isn't communicating with a waitlist of prospective tenants considered "reasonable"?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Gregory L Abbott
Gregory L Abbott
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Portland, OR
  • Licensed in Oregon

A: Much depends upon what the lease says. IF it contains an early termination penalty clause, the landlord is free to assess up to a 1 1/2 mo rent penalty for early termination, according to the written lease provisions. If there is no such pre-payment penalty, the existing tenant can be on the hook for continuing rent payments so long as the landlord makes reasonable efforts to re-rent the apartment. Note that he does not have to move someone into the early-terminated unit if he has other vacant units to fill. If, though, there really IS a waiting list, then he would presumably be expected to attempt to re-rent the now vacant unit earlier rather than later. To the extent that he does not, the ex-tenant would be excused from having to pay continuing rent and associated costs. $500 seems high for an application fee and unless you have some sort of very unusual circumstances, a landlord should not be charging higher rent than allowed by the lease or subsequent lawful rent raises after the tenant has been there one year. While the exiting tenant providing a new, replacement tenant is a good way for the exiting tenant to help "speed" the process and take themselves off the hook for continuing rent, ultimately the landlord still must approve the replacement tenant and regardless, has the affirmative obligation to attempt to re-rent the dwelling himself rather than rely upon the exiting tenant. He cannot slough his obligations off onto the exiting tenant.

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