More than half of U.S. states have adopted statutes that require your landlord to mitigate damages if you move out before your lease is up. This means that a landlord is legally obligated to make his or her best efforts to re-rent your unit if you move out early. They can do this either by marketing the unit to find a new tenant or by reviewing and accepting a qualified replacement that you find.
Where are landlords required to mitigate damages?
Damage mitigation requirements vary on a state-by-state basis. These local differences can be grouped into three main categories:
- Required via statute: More than half of U.S. states have adopted statutes that require your landlord to mitigate damages if you move out before your lease is up. This means that there is a law that clearly (without any room for argument) holds a landlord to this standard.
- Required via court decisions: A handful of other states have not explicitly adopted damage mitigation laws through their legislatures, but have enough precedent (previous court cases) to make it enforceable.
- Not required: Some states have no legislation or previous court cases that would hold a landlord to the mitigation standard. If you live in one of these states and plan to invoke damage mitigation then you should start by speaking with a local attorney.
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How do I use the damage mitigation law?
Although most places in the U.S. do require landlords to mitigate damages, the legal specifics vary between states. In many jurisdictions, it’s up to the tenant to prove the landlord wasn’t mitigating damages if the case goes to court; in a handful of others, it’s up to the landlord to prove they were. And what, exactly, counts as a “reasonable” effort to find a new renter depends largely on past court cases in each state. Choose your state from the dropdown menu at the top of this page to find out more about your landlord’s duty where you rent.
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.