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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 almost every tenant who rents single-family homes goes for long-term leases? But really, life can be quite unexpected and unpredictable, and tenants may have to leave earlier than expected. It’s always better to have a plan in place, just in case.

The most typical reasons for breaking a lease could be job relocations, home buying, changing familial status, or military duty. It’s critical to handle the situation expertly and aptly follow legal protocols.

Know and Follow the Law

When you and your tenant sign a lease, it’s critical to bear in mind that it’s a legally binding agreement. This denotes you both have certain rights and responsibilities governed by state landlord-tenant and other federal laws. These laws are in place to always make certain that both you and your tenant are treated fairly. To cite an instance, in almost every state, landlords are responsible for always making sure that the rental property is in good condition and must give notice to the tenant prior to entering the property.

Failing to comply with landlord-entry regulations or respecting your tenant’s privacy can be legal grounds for lease termination in a good deal of 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 helpful practice for any landlord, even though it is not required. Such a clause can help clarify the process a tenant may follow to break their lease agreement. Typically, this includes bringing about a certain amount of advance notice, usually 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 unnecessary conflict if the tenant needs to terminate the lease early.

A clause in your lease documents confers your tenant a way out if needed, and makes certain that you do not meet financial hardship because of the broken lease.

After a Tenant Breaks a Lease

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

It’s an effective plan to ask your tenants if you can inspect the property before they walk away. This will help you identify any repairs that the tenant may be accountable 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 beneficial to keep thorough documentation of everything.

Send your tenant a written reminder delineating their legal obligations under the terms of your lease agreement and what will happen if they don’t realize them. It’s desirable to send this notice by certified mail to establish a paper trail of your actions.

If you confront 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 integrates filing a civil lawsuit with your local court. It is pivotal for you to disclose to the court that you have acted in a lawful and fair manner throughout the process, including all the means you took to re-rent the property.

Hire a Professional Property Manager

One productive way to secure that your rental business is run in a professional and legally compliant manner is by hiring the services of a reliable property management company. Such a company can help you navigate the complexities of property management and really make sure that your rental property is managed ably and transparently.

At Real Property Management Principles, we competently work on your behalf in Liberty and nearby to develop advantageous tenant relations and suitably sort out unexpected changes. Contact us online or call us at 816-890-9800 to discuss more regarding this and our other quality services.


Originally Published on April 1, 2022

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