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Can not take possession of an apartment due to school canceling class, but signed a lease. What is our liability?

Chico, CA |

Possession of the apartment has not yet occurred. The lease has a paragraph saying "Acceptance of Premises". But this did not happen as a specific apartment has not assigned, nor will be assigned until the day the lease starts. Do you have any rights, etc to get out of the lease?

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Attorney answers 3


Generally speaking (without having the benefit of reviewing the lease that you signed), if you did sign a lease, you are contractually obligated to perform under your lease agreement, which includes paying rent for the entire duration of the lease term.

However, if the lease agreement which you signed is ambiguous or incomplete, you might not have such liability. Similarly, the fact that you have not yet taken possession, and the fact that the lease commencement date is not until the future, helps you.

Otherwise, (again generally speaking), the landlord has the legal obligation to mitigate damages by finding a replacement tenant, so your ultimate liability is reduced by whatever rent the landlord can recover by finding a new tenant.

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult with your own attorney.


Without reading your lease, it is impossible to know the extent of your liability. Generally, however, a lease will contain provisions that state when and how you may cancel it. It sounds as though you are leasing a school-apartment of some sort and there is likely language in the lease that releases your obligation if you can no longer attend classes. I suggest you start by reviewing your lease and then discuss the issue with the landlord immediately. Liability for any breach on your part generally extends only as far as the landlord suffers damages. The sooner you discuss the issue with the landlord, the sooner the landlord can mitigate, or reduce, any potential loss.

This reply is provided for information purposes only and does not represent legal advice or an attorney-client relationship.


As stated by the other attorneys, a review of your lease is needed to determine you potential liability.

Basically, people are entitled to the benefit they would receive under a contract (like a lease agreement) when 1 party breaches. This means your landlord would entitled to the profit of your future rent. However, you are helped by the fact your contract is not effective and vague--thus making it quasi-incomplete.

Additionally, the non-breaching party must mitigate (reduce) their damages. This means that even though you breach, your landlord will not be able to collect all the rent you would owe for the term of the lease. They are entitled to the rent they wouldn't receive from a new tenant. Thus, if you breach your lease, and the landlord cannot re-let the apartment for 1 month to a new tenant, you would be responsible for that month's rent.

Hope this helps give you an idea.

This information is not to be construed as legal advice or legal opinion, merely as general information. As such, the information provided may not represent current legal developments. Answering this question is not intended to and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Communications via Avvo do not create an attorney-client relationship.

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