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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 that a great number of tenants who rent single-family homes favor long-term leases? But sadly, life can be changeable and unpredictable, and tenants may have to leave earlier than expected. It’s always more advisable and beneficial to have a plan in place, just in case.

Standard reasons for breaking a lease include job relocations, home buying, changing familial status, or military duty. It’s vital to handle the situation expeditiously and appropriately follow legal protocols.

Know and Follow the Law

When you and your tenant sign a lease, it’s relevant to keep in mind that it’s a legally binding agreement. Hence, you both have certain rights and responsibilities governed by state landlord-tenant and other federal laws. These laws are in place to determine that both you and your tenant are treated fairly. Particularly, in most states, landlords are responsible for determining that the rental property is in good condition and must give notice to the tenant normally before entering the property.

Failing to comply with landlord-entry regulations or respecting your tenant’s privacy can be legal grounds for lease termination in considerable 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 a beneficial practice for any landlord, while it is not a must. Such a clause can help clarify the process a tenant may follow to break their lease agreement. Mainly, this includes offering a certain amount of advance notice, customarily 30 days, and perhaps paying an early termination fee. By having this clause in place, both the tenant and the landlord can avoid any confusion or conflict if the tenant needs to terminate the lease early.

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

After a Tenant Breaks a Lease

As a landlord, it’s necessary to maintain cordial and respectful relationships with tenants, even if they happen to break the lease agreement. While it can be disturbing when a tenant leaves before fulfilling their lease term, handling the situation efficiently and congenially is vital. In such cases, it’s tactical to document the problem and initiate a dialogue with the tenant to resolve the matter and collect any outstanding dues.

It’s a smart idea to ask your tenant if you can inspect the property before they go off. This will help you identify any repairs that the tenant may be in any way responsible 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 helpful to keep a comprehensive documentation of everything.

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

If you undergo 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 includes filing a civil lawsuit with your local court. It is pertinent for you to confirm to the court that you have acted in a lawful and fair manner throughout the process, including all the methods you took to re-rent the property.

Hire a Professional Property Manager

One excellent way to warrant that your rental business is effectively run in a professional and legally compliant manner is by employing the services of a reliable property management company. Such a company can help you navigate the complexities of property management and always warrant that your rental property is managed well and transparently.

At Real Property Management Diamond, we professionally work on your behalf in Milford and nearby to develop beneficial tenant relations and suitably work out unexpected changes. Contact us online or call us at 302-313-7700 to find out more about this and our other quality services.


Originally Published on April 1, 2022

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