What are our options to terminating the lease on a college apartment?
It is difficult to respond to your questions without seeing a copy of the lease.
Generally, a short term; lease does not have to be recorded to be binding.
Under common law, a landlord had no duty to accept or procure a new tenant in order to mitigate damages resulting from a tenant's abandonment or refusal to occupy its premises. However, in recent years, many states have enacted statutes applicable to residential landlords that impose a duty to mitigate. This modern view, which Louisiana appears to follow,;treats documents conveying interests in real property as contracts. It is an established principle of contract law that parties to an agreement have a duty to mitigate their damages. Under this duty, when a tenant defaults on a lease by moving before the lease term ends, a landlord can no longer just let the premises lie idle and expect to collect full rent. Rent received from a new tenant has to be credited to the rent due from the breaching tenant.
Abandonment is typically defined as absence of the tenant from the premises for a period of time when rent has not been paid. Provided the statutory or contractual definition is met, a Landlord is allowed to repossess the premises and store tenant's belongings. A Tenant may recover same before the expiration of a certain time period, but must reimburse landlord for the cost of storage.