I lost my job in 2006 and broke my lease.  Now I'm being charged for the remainder of my lease.  Is this legal?we don't have an agreement until signed right.

Expert Answers
Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Landlord-tenant law can vary from one state to another, so all I can give you are some general principles.  If you had a lease and you broke the lease, the landlord can usually sue you for the balance of the lease.  Why you broke your lease does not matter at all. The only reason which would excuse your obligation to pay would be that the unit was not habitable.  That doesn't seem to be your situation, though, since you broke the lease because you could not afford to pay the rent.  However, the landlord has an obligation in most states to mitigate his losses by trying to rent the apartment again after a tenant breaks the lease.  The landlord cannot simply let the unit sit empty without trying to get another tenant and then expect you to pay the balance of the lease.  Good luck. 

santari eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Any lease that extends for a year or more must be in writing and signed by the party to be charged (you). Otherwise it is not binding and you cannot be charged for it.  This requirement stems from the common law Statute of Frauds.

Even if you did sign a lease, and subsequently broke it, the landlord must make attempts to mitigate damages. This means they must treat the empty space just like any of their other empty units and make all attempts to rent it to another party. For example, if you signed a one year lease but never moved in, and somebody else rented the unit two months later, you would only be liable for those two months that it sat empty.