Navigating Tenant Lease Breaks

November 30, 2023by melissad0

Navigating tenant lease breaks can be tricky.  Understanding landlord obligations under civil code 1951.2 is imperative. As a landlord, maintaining a rental property is a multifaceted task. One aspect that can often prove challenging is dealing with a tenant who wishes to break their lease agreement prematurely. It’s crucial for landlords to be aware of their rights and obligations in such situations, especially in accordance with California’s Civil Code Section 1951.2. This blog aims to shed light on a landlord’s obligations to mitigate damages and how Civil Code 1951.2 comes into play when a tenant decides to vacate before the lease term ends.

Understanding Lease Breaks

Lease breaks can occur for various reasons. Whether it’s a tenant’s change in circumstances, job relocation, or personal issues, landlords must be prepared to handle such situations professionally and in accordance with the law.

The Landlord’s Duty to Mitigate Damages

One of the key aspects landlords should be aware of when a tenant breaks their lease is the duty to mitigate damages. This obligation is outlined in California’s Civil Code Section 1951.2, which stipulates that landlords must take reasonable steps to re-rent the property in order to minimize financial losses.

Here are some important points to consider:

1. Act Promptly: Once a tenant informs you of their intention to break the lease, it’s essential to start looking for a replacement tenant immediately. The law expects landlords to make reasonable efforts to re-rent the unit as soon as possible.

2. Advertising: Landlords should advertise the property for rent through various channels, including online listings, signage, and working with real estate professionals if necessary.

3. Fair Market Rent: Landlords are generally expected to set the rental price at a rate that reflects the current fair market rent for similar properties in the area. Charging an unreasonably high rent could be viewed as failing to mitigate damages.

4. Document Your Efforts: Keep detailed records of your efforts to re-rent the property. This includes communication with potential tenants, advertising expenses, and showing the unit to prospective renters.

Provisions of Civil Code 1951.2

Civil Code Section 1951.2 outlines several provisions regarding a landlord’s duty to mitigate damages:

1. Immediate Action: Landlords must take action immediately to find a new tenant after being informed of the lease break.

2. Written Notice: If a tenant breaks their lease, it’s essential to provide them with a written notice outlining their obligations and responsibilities, including their financial obligations until a new tenant is found.

3. Re-rental at a Reasonable Rate: Landlords must make a good-faith effort to re-rent the property at a rate that is reasonable and reflective of current market conditions.

4. No Double-Dipping: Landlords cannot collect rent from the previous tenant and the new tenant for the same period, thereby avoiding double recovery.


Dealing with a tenant lease break can be challenging, but understanding your obligations as a landlord is crucial to ensure you are acting within the bounds of the law. California’s Civil Code 1951.2 emphasizes the importance of mitigating damages by taking prompt and reasonable steps to re-rent the property. By following these guidelines, landlords can navigate lease breaks more effectively while minimizing financial losses. However, it’s always advisable to consult with legal counsel or a property management professional for specific situations, as lease break scenarios can vary widely.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Promote housing opportunities for all persons regardless of race, religion, sex, marital status, ancestry, national origin, color, familial status, or disability (Government Code Section 65583(c)(5)).

San Diego Metro Office
6398 Del Cerro Blvd., Ste 8.
San Diego, CA 92120
(619) 286-7600

Skip to content