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What Should I Do If My Tenant Breaks Their Lease?

Frustrated rental property tenants sitting on couch with cardboard boxes
Did you know the majority of tenants who rent single-family homes are in favor of long-term leases? Although, it is also true that life can be rather unpredictable, and tenants may have to leave earlier than expected. It’s always optimum to have a plan in place, just in case.

Generally, the reasons for breaking a lease pertain to job relocations, home buying, changing familial status, or military duty. It’s beneficial to handle the situation adeptly and duly follow legal protocols.

Know and Follow the Law

When you and your tenant sign a lease, it’s salient to ascertain that it’s a legally binding agreement. Simply put, you both have certain rights and responsibilities governed by state landlord-tenant and other federal laws. These laws are in place to always guarantee that both you and your tenant are treated fairly. As a sample, in the majority of states, landlords are responsible for always making certain that the rental property is in good condition and must give notice to the tenant before entering the property.

Failing to follow landlord-entry regulations or respecting your tenant’s privacy can be legal grounds for lease termination in most states. Other reasons include military service, domestic violence, or uninhabitable property.

Lease Termination Clause

Including an early lease termination clause in your lease documents is an effective practice for any landlord even though it is not obligatory. Such a clause can help clarify the process a tenant may follow to break their lease agreement. Regularly, this includes endowing a certain amount of advance notice, conventionally 30 days, and most likely paying an early termination fee. By having this clause in place, both the tenant and the landlord can avoid any confusion or feud if the tenant needs to terminate the lease early.

A clause in your lease documents offers your tenant a way out if needed and makes sure that you do not confront financial hardship because of the broken lease.

After a Tenant Breaks a Lease

As a landlord, it’s relevant to maintain cordial and respectful relationships with tenants, even if they happen to break the lease agreement. While it can be disheartening when a tenant leaves before fulfilling their lease term, handling the situation properly and good-naturedly is imperative. In such cases, it’s rational to document the problem and initiate a dialogue with the tenant to resolve the matter and collect any outstanding dues.

It’s a practical idea to ask your tenant if you can inspect the property before they move out. This will help you identify any repairs that the tenant may be liable for and what you need to do to get the property ready for a new tenant. As with any tenant, you should calculate any unpaid rent and the cost of repairs and deduct them from their security deposit. It is pertinent to keep comprehensive documentation of everything.

Send your tenant a written reminder to clearly explain their legal obligations under the terms of your lease agreement and what will happen if they don’t comply with them. It’s prudent to send this notice by certified mail to properly put in place a paper trail of your actions.

If you struggle in a situation where your tenant is not paying the rent, you might have to go through a legal process to collect the owed rent and associated fees. This means filing a civil lawsuit with your local court. You must exhibit to the court that you have acted in a lawful and fair manner throughout the process, including all the ways you took to re-rent the property.

Hire a Professional Property Manager

One fitting way to properly ensure that your rental business is accomplished in a professional and legally compliant manner is by engaging the services of a reliable property management company. Such a company can help you effectively navigate the complexities of property management and always make certain that your rental property is managed perfectly and transparently.

At Real Property Management Instant Equity, we capably work on your behalf in Charleston and nearby to establish the best tenant relations and straighten out unexpected changes. Contact us online or call us at 843-898-5743 to find out more about this and our other quality services.


Originally Published on April 1, 2022

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