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Am I still responsible for rent after they change the locks?

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Am I still responsible for rent after they change the locks?

Postby RedKty » Wed Nov 06, 2013 2:37 pm

I lived at an apt. community in Virginia for 10 years, decided to move out 45 days before my lease expired. Found a new place at 35, and notified them in writing at 30 days. I did not understand that they could make me pay for another months rent even though my lease was up since they had a clause in the lease saying you had to give 60 days notice. So I moved out on October 15 at 30 days notice, and even though I found this to be completely unreasonable, I paid for the second half of October. My question is this: they want me to pay for the first half of November since they couldn't find another renter for my apt., however, they changed the locks. Am I still responsible for paying rent for an apt. that I no longer reside in, and/or no longer have access to? That just seems completely unreasonable to me. I'm essentially paying them to get my apt. ready for the next tenant. Granted, I did not think the 60-day notice was a "big deal"...I thought they would make an exception for me, as I had lived there for 10 years. But you live and learn. Is it unlawful to make a tenant pay for a residence that they moved out from and no longer have access to? Are there any federal or state (va) laws that might support my position? I do have a chronic pain disorder (but still work full-time), and had a clause in one of my leases a few years ago that I could terminate my lease at any time without penalty (though that is not the current lease). Thoughts here?
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Postby TenantNet » Wed Nov 06, 2013 3:11 pm

Tenants are normally liable for the rent for the term of the lease. If your lease expires on Nov. 15, then you are normally liable for that.

There are exceptions depending on the jurdisdiction. We can't speak to Virginia law, but some localities will require the LL to make an effort to mitigate the damages by the loss of the tenant's rent. However, here, the time period is too short to make that argument. The LL could not reasonably find a new tenant in the short period of time, let alone put out advertisements.

One factor might be if you returned possession to the LL and if they accepted possession. Here it appears you did and they did by accepting the keys and changing the locks. However, that might not get you off the hook for the last month. If you paid for the rest of October, there's no question the place was still yours until then. When they actually changed the locks might be an issue.

If they no longer give you access (and if you try and document it), IMHO that would be an argument to not pay into November.
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