I want to break the lease with my landlord. I am in California. Can I just wait for a 3 day notice to quit, move out, give the keys, and avoid an eviction record and not be responsible for the remaining rent?
I can only speak about Texas, but in Texas, when you get a 3-day notice-to-quit & vacate, that IS the beginning of the eviction process.If you get out and surrender keys within the 3 calendar days it allows, then you won’t become named in an eviction suit. You can’t evict someone who has already given you possession and vacated.If you also pay any back rent you owe, then you only have to worry about future rent for the remainder of your lease, until the landlord signs with a new tenant.The Notice To Quit & Vacate is not a matter of public record, so there’s nothing to follow you around later, except probably your landlord’s bad recommendation to future landlords. That settles you up free and clear for whatever caused the eviction notice.But there is still the question of remaining months on the lease, and you will be responsible for at least a month of that, maybe 4–5 months if it takes that long for your landlord to find a new tenant. You’ll get a Demand Letter from your landlord, or maybe from his attorney, and if you don’t pay the amount it demands, you will be looking at a different lawsuit, other than the eviction suit you were originally facing when you got the 3-day eviction notice.In Texas (and this may not be the case in any other state), the landlord has what’s called a “Duty To Mitigate”.If you break the lease four months into a 24-month lease, the landlord can’t turn around the next day and sue you for the remaining 20 months.He must make good faith efforts to find another tenant, and when he’s successful in that, your financial obligation ends as soon as a lease begins with the new tenant.He knows, at that point, how much to demand from you and sue over if necessary. That was something he didn’t know when you handed in the keys, because he could sign a lease with a new tenant that same week, a few months later, or any time in between.If it takes him four months to get someone else in there, you are responsible for any back rent you left owing, plus the four months the property sat vacant.“Good Faith” means the landlord can’t take that opportunity to start a 6-month remodel of the house before spending four months getting a new tenant into it.Efforts to find a tenant must be made as soon as he can get it restored to the state it was in when you took possession, all repaired, cleaned up, and ready to rent.And he can’t delay that (if somehow he even wanted to) by doubling or tripling the rent, unless you were getting a heck of a deal, like half prevailing rental value for such a house. He must be trying to rent it at fair market value.