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Richard
Richard, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 53986
Experience:  32 years of experience as lawyer in Texas. I'm also a Real Estate developer.
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I rented a home and ended up wanting out of the lease due to

Customer Question

I rented a home and ended up wanting out of the lease due to my husband's job changing and we bought a home near the new job. The lease goes through July. I notified the landlord in January of our intent to move and asked what we needed to do to get it subletted. He said he didn't want to show the home until it was vacant and then would rent it to someone with a new one year lease. It was 5 weeks from our first notice until the home was vacant and cleaned by us. The landlord asked for the one key he had given me and the garage door opener. I gave them to him. My daughter is a realtor and would have listed the house to lease for free but the landlord said we had to have his realtor prepare the lease and pay him for it. Consequently, we used his realtor. They listed the home for rent for $250 more than we are renting ($2,600 vs. $2,350). After a month he lowered the rent and it's now $50 more than we were paying. When we spoke with him at the beginning of April (still no renter) he said there were people in March who wanted to rent in May but he told them no as he wanted to rent it more quickly. We are still paying the rent (haven't paid May yet) yet have no access to the home. Do we have a leg to stand on if we stop paying rent?
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Richard replied 7 months ago.
Good morning Jennifer. My name is ***** ***** I will be helping you today! It will take me just a few minutes to type a response to your question. Thanks for your patience!
Expert:  Richard replied 7 months ago.
You absolutely have a leg to stand on. Once you provided notice to your landlord, the landlord had a legal duty to mitigate. What that means is that even if you may not have had the right to terminate your lease, once you notified the landlord you were terminating, the landlord had a legal affirmative duty to mitigate the damages by using reasonable efforts to re-lease the property. Once the property is re-leased, or if the landlord does not use reasonable efforts to re-lease, you would then be off the hook for further obligation. Given your facts, in my experience, a court would not deem that the landlord satisfied the burden of using reasonable efforts...i) because he raised the rent; and ii) because he had a tenant beginning in May which he turned down. Thus, if you stop paying rent, it's not likely if the landlord brought suit against you for the rent for May that a court would rule in his favor. You should let him know the foregoing and also let him know that if he files any negative credit report against you, you will be filing a suit for defamation seeking actual and punitive damages. Thank you so much for allowing me to help you with your questions. I have done my best to provide information which fully addresses your question. If you have any follow up questions, please ask! If I have fully answered your question(s) to your satisfaction, I would appreciate you rating my service as OK, Good or Excellent (hopefully Good or Excellent). Otherwise, I receive no credit for assisting you today. I thank you in advance for taking the time to provide me a positive rating!
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Thank you. He said he has someone who was interested in leasing in May and he turned them down. He didn't go through the whole approval process with the potential tenant, does that change things? Also, he emailed my daughter on April 2 using the pretense that he was concerned and she was the leasing agent and he wanted to make sure that we were paying the April rent and told her that we owed $400 from March (I accidentally wrote the numerical amount as $2,411 - HOA fees were added onto our lease and the written out part as two thousand.)Also, on what grounds do we have to file for defamation and punitive damages - does that come into play if he files negatively with the credit bureau?
Expert:  Richard replied 7 months ago.
You're very welcome...it's my pleasure. That likely would not matter as the burden is on him, not you. You would only file the defamation suit if he files a negative report; but you want to let him know ahead of time so he doesn't do anything...always easier to prevent something than to have to put the toothpaste back into the tube. :)
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
One more question, we are in Texas and I've heard that Texas law sides with the landlord. I absolutely know that you can't tell how a court will find, but you are confident, based on the information I've given you, that we are in our rights to stop paying rent?
Expert:  Richard replied 7 months ago.
I'm in Texas as well. :) And, I've provided information to you based on the law and my experience in this state. The information I provided you is exactly the course I would follow if your situation was my situation.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Thank you.
Expert:  Richard replied 7 months ago.
You're very welcome...it's my pleasure to help.

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