Landlord's Duty to Mitigate Damages

Last Updated: October 6, 2023 by Phil Ahn

If a tenant breaks a lease early, they are responsible for the remaining rent due on the lease. However, most states require that landlords must make a good-faith effort to re-rent the property—also known as mitigating damages. The original tenant would then be released from their obligation to continue paying rent.

When Must Landlords Make a Reasonable Effort to Mitigate Damages?

In states that require mitigation of damages, the landlord must take steps to lessen the damages when the tenant breaks the lease early. Mitigating damages means the landlord must take the necessary steps to re-rent the premises.

Which States Do Not Require Landlords to Mitigate Damages?

The following states are the only states that do not require a landlord to mitigate damages:

  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota
  • Wyoming
  • Vermont

How Do Landlords Make Reasonable Efforts to Mitigate Damages?

The specific actions a landlord must take to mitigate damages may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the circumstances surrounding the lease termination. However, some common steps that landlords typically undertake to fulfill their duty to mitigate damages include:

  • Advertising and Promotion: Landlords should advertise the availability of the rental property through various channels, such as online listings, local newspapers, real estate agents, or property management companies. The advertisements should provide relevant information about the property, its features, rental terms, and contact details.
  • Property Showings: Landlords should facilitate property showings to potential tenants who express interest in renting the property. This may involve scheduling and conducting tours, highlighting the property’s features, and addressing any inquiries or concerns.
  • Fair Rental Pricing: Landlords should set a fair and competitive rental price to attract potential tenants. Setting an excessively high rental price may deter prospective tenants, making it more difficult to mitigate damages.
  • Timely Response: Landlords should promptly respond to inquiries from prospective tenants, provide necessary information, and facilitate the application and screening process. Delays in responding or showing a lack of interest in finding a new tenant may be seen as a failure to mitigate damages.

Reasonable Timeframe

Landlords are expected to act diligently in their efforts to re-rent the property, but the law generally does not impose a specific timeframe for finding a new tenant. What is considered a reasonable timeframe may vary depending on factors such as local rental market conditions, the location of the property, and the time of year.

Tenant’s Liability After Mitigated Damages

If the landlord successfully mitigates damages by finding a new tenant, the original tenant will not have to continue paying rent. The tenant may still be responsible for rent payments until the new lease agreement begins or until the original lease term expires, whichever occurs first. The tenant may also be responsible for any costs incurred by the landlord in re-renting the property, such as advertising expenses or leasing commissions.

Failure to fulfill the duty to mitigate damages can have legal consequences for landlords. If it is determined that the landlord did not make reasonable efforts to mitigate damages, the landlord may be limited in their ability to recover unpaid rent from the original tenant. Additionally, the landlord’s failure to mitigate damages may be taken into account if a legal dispute arises between the parties.