What is the current rental market in Berkeley?

My husband was recently diagnosed with cancer and our family (me, husband, baby) will be moving out of the Bay Area to be closer to family while he seeks treatment.  This was completely unexpected and unfortunate for us.  We are renters and will need to break the third yearlong lease we signed at our current home (been here since 2020).  The property manager was not very reassuring in her assessment of finding a "qualified" replacement tenant by the end of February.  I want to ask if anyone has insight into the current rental market in Berkeley or even long-term trends on renting out a 2-bed / 1 bath single family home with a yard in a desirable part of the city (close to parks, BART, etc.).  We are feeling anxious that we may be obligated to pay for the space for months while it goes unoccupied, but I've always thought of the rental market in Berkeley as very tight and fast moving.  Thanks in advance for your insight!!

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Sorry about the illness.

Generally, people move in spring and summer, not winter. The rental market is slow this time of year. The management will have a bit better chance of finding someone if you can be out by the end of the year. The spring semester at UC Berkeley starts mid-January and a few people will be moving to this area before classes start. You could clean up your place, take some nice pics, advertise, and try to find the next tenant yourself. Describe the home and neighborhood in glowing terms. If management is already doing a good job of marketing, this could be pointless. 

I hope you are able to sublet successfully. 

First, sorry to hear about your troubles. Second, I am a lawyer, but this is not legal advice. I would tell the landlord he has one month to find a replacement tenant - that should be no problem in this market with the property you describe. If he does not find one by then, tell him you will vacate the premises and he can keep the deposit (assuming only one month).  Put this in a letter explaining your circumstances. If he does not agree, just leave. Highly unlikely he comes after you (even more unlikely if you’re leaving the state). 

Sorry, i missed that you weren’t leaving until the end of February. In that case, I would just say you fully expect them to find a replacement by then. If they don’t (and it will be because they didn’t try), I would just leave and expect to lose to security deposit.