Can I break my lease if there are mice in my apartment building?
A landlord always has a duty to mitigate damages. Yes, you agreed to rent the apartment for a certain time, but that doesn't mean the landlord can let it sit empty and not try to recoup any losses between now and the end of your lease. You will be responsible for the rent until the landlord, after a diligent search, has found someone else to rent the apartment.
The effect of the landlord suing you will vary based on state law and so many other factors. The most likely thing that will happen is that you will have a hard time renting again (especially in the same area) because you have a judgment against you. With this judgment, the landlord can try to seize assets (such as bank accounts, real property, automobiles, wages, etc.) to satisfy the judgment (the amount granted to him by the court).
It could also affect your ability to return to the US. This is definitely something they will ask about with a visa application, not
to mention on a job application.
What you could do is try to find someone to take over your lease (if your rental agreement allows for this) until it's up. That way, the rent gets paid and you don't have to worry about the landlord not being proactive about finding someone else to rent the space between now and the end of your lease. People do this through Craig's List all the time.
If you are sued, I highly suggest you not ignore it. Hire a lawyer to go to court for you. It will probably not be that expensive because small claims court, where this type of action is usually brought, is less formal and less time consuming. Even if the landlord doesn't sue, you may still want to hire a lawyer to send him a letter informing him of your rights and his responsibilities to try to help you come to an agreement just so you don't have this hanging over your head.
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