Is a Landlord Responsible For Filling Vacant Rental Units?

By E-Renter Tenant Screening
Posted on May 6, 2011 under Landlord and Tenant FAQs | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

"tenant screening, tenant background check"What is a landlord’s responsibility after a tenant notifies that he or she is breaking a lease early? Can landlords just allow a rental unit to sit empty, requiring the old tenant to continue paying rent until the end of the original lease?

In a word, no. When a tenant breaches the terms of a lease, landlords are required to mitigate their losses by making a real attempt to fill the empty unit. Otherwise, apartments and rental houses everywhere would be sitting empty while tenants who need to move are paying rent at both their new and old places. Meanwhile, tenants who need homes to rent would be kept out of rentable units.

But how much effort is required of a landlord? If he or she makes an attempt to fill a rental unit, does that suffice? How far must a landlord go before requiring the former tenant to make up the loss in rent?

Here are two scenarios to illustrate typical landlord actions:

  • Landlord A advertises a rental unit at above-market rates. In this case, it’s not the tenant’s fault when the listing doesn’t attract any new applicants. The landlord is increasing her chances of loss of rent by advertising the unit at above-market rents. It wouldn’t be fair to require the tenant to keep paying rent until someone willing to pay too much comes along.
  • Landlord B advertises the rental unit at the same rent the tenant was paying and posts “For Rent” signs on the building. This landlord is showing a real effort to mitigate his losses. If no suitable tenants come forth, it is not the landlord’s fault, and therefore the tenant would likely be required to continue paying rent until the unit is leased.

Keeping rental units full at rates the market can bear is good for landlords ad tenants. So, when a tenant notifies you that they’re moving out ahead of the lease termination date, make every effort to fill that vacancy, and you’ll make three people happy—the old tenant, the new tenant and yourself!

Learn more about protecting your rental property and assets through tenant background checks. Proper tenant screening will ensure you are leasing to the best possible tenants.

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