As a landlord, you know that managing tenants is one of the hardest parts of the job. This responsibility may become even more complicated when a tenant breaks his lease early.
That lease is more than a piece of paper; it’s a legal agreement for both the landlord and the tenant to uphold a rental agreement. Make sure you know how to best handle the unexpected situation of a tenant breaking his lease early.
Identify the Reason for Breaking a Lease
Though some tenants are irresponsible, most have a legitimate reason for breaking their lease early. Some tenants may even have the legal right to terminate a lease early without penalty. This is why it’s so important to identify the reason for a broken lease before you take action.
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, for example, allows military service members to break a lease when they receive orders to move or deploy. Cities and states have their own specific regulations, but typically only a 30-day notice is required.
It’s also possible that your tenant broke a lease in response to unlivable conditions. If you failed to make necessary repairs or ensure a safe and livable property, your tenant may have justifiable cause to terminate without penalty.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many tenants have been forced to break their leases due to loss of wages and circumstances beyond their control. Stay current on landlord-tenant laws in relation to the pandemic so that you can respond accordingly.
Follow the Early Termination Clause
Your leases should include an early termination clause that outlines exactly how broken leases are handled. By clearly outlining the consequences of breaking a lease, you protect your legal right to hold tenants responsible and minimize your own risk.
For example, your early termination clause may state that tenants who break their lease early must pay the rent balance for the remaining months, forfeit the security deposit, or be responsible for finding a subletter for the remainder of the lease term.
It’s most common for lease agreements to require the departing tenant to pay rent for the months remaining in the lease or for as long as the property remains vacant, whichever is less.
Ask a Professional for Support
You don’t need to manage landlord responsibilities by yourself. Douglas Realty Property Management can help you navigate property management with ease and expertise. Call (239) 542-6906 today to learn more and get the professional support you need.