The California Civil Code, Chapter 2, Section 1951.2 sets forth the tenant abandonment laws and penalties for when a tenant abandons the rental property or breaks the lease.
Tenant Penalty for Breaking Lease
If a lessee of real property breaches the lease and abandons the property before the end of the term or if his right to possession is terminated by the lessor because of a breach of the lease, the lease terminates. Upon such termination, the lessor may recover from the lessee:
- The worth at the time of award of the unpaid rent which had been earned at the time of termination;
- The worth at the time of award of the amount by which the unpaid rent which would have been earned after termination until the time of award exceeds the amount of such rental loss that the lessee proves could have been reasonably avoided;
- Subject to subdivision Additional Damages, the worth at the time of award of the amount by which the unpaid rent for the balance of the term after the time of award exceeds the amount of such rental loss that the lessee proves could be reasonably avoided; and
- Any other amount necessary to compensate the lessor for all the detriment proximately caused by the lessee’s failure to perform his obligations under the lease or which in the ordinary course of things would be likely to result therefrom.
Calculating “Worth at the Time of Award”
The “worth at the time of award” of the amounts referred to in the subsection Tenant Penalty for Breaking Lease is computed by allowing interest at such lawful rate as may be specified in the lease or, if no such rate is specified in the lease, at the legal rate. The worth at the time of award of the amount referred to in paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) is computed by discounting such amount at the discount rate of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco at the time of award plus 1 percent.
The lessor may recover additional damages after the termination date only if:
- The lease provides that the damages he may recover include the worth at the time of award of the amount by which the unpaid rent for the balance of the term after the time of award, or for any shorter period of time specified in the lease, exceeds the amount of such rental loss for the same period that the lessee proves could be reasonably avoided; or
- The lessor relet the property prior to the time of award and proves that in reletting the property he acted reasonably and in a good-faith effort to mitigate the damages, but the recovery of damages under this paragraph is subject to any limitations specified in the lease.
Note: Efforts by the lessor to mitigate the damages caused by the lessee’s breach of the lease do not waive the lessor’s right to recover damages under this section.
Added by Stats. 1970, Ch. 89.
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