February 6, 2020

When Breaking a Lease Is Ok—and When It's Not

One unfortunate reality about being a landlord is the broken lease. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, leases are broken. 

On occasion, it’s the tenant who breaks the terms of the agreement. They have to relocate for work and must end the lease early. Sometimes, a tenant vacates without notice. 

At other times, you might have to terminate a lease early because a tenant violates the terms of the lease agreement. Despite your thorough tenant screening process, you ended up with a bad tenant. 

You can relax knowing that while it's not the norm, breaking a lease happens to every landlord. Here's what to do when a tenant breaks a lease for your West Bloomfield property. 

When a Tenant Breaks a Lease With Notice

Maintaining a good relationship with tenants is part of being an excellent landlord. When you lose a tenant, it's a good idea to extend flexibility and kindness as you work with their situation. 

In most situations, a tenant must give at least thirty days notice before vacating a residence. If you're losing a good tenant because of an unexpected situation, it's good business to work with your tenant to let them out of their lease. 

Tenants could need to move for a variety of legitimate reasons:

Talk with them about options to end the relationship amicably. If they give notice, work with them. 

Depending on your agreement and the situation, you can request that your tenant pays rent through the end of the month when they move out.

A blue card with "Lease Agreement" on it surrounded by round, wooden letter.

Be Fair, But Business-Minded

As a landlord, you have to run your rental property investments like a business. You could require the tenant to continue paying rent until you find a new tenant to fulfill the terms of your original agreement.

However, in most cases, after the tenant moves out, it's best to release them from further payments at the end of their last month in the property. 

Be flexible, but make sure you aren't suffering a significant financial loss because your tenant's situation changed. With thirty days notice, you can start looking for new tenants right away. 

Work quickly to find new tenants to ensure there is no lapse in rental income for that property.

Leaving a Property Without Notice

Did you stop by your property to check on a maintenance issue and discover your tenants moved out? It's rare, but it happens. 

If your tenant leaves without notice, it's a bit more complicated than when a tenant follows protocol and provides notice to vacate early. Your first step is to document everything from the moment you first realized your tenants were gone. 

Take photos of the condition of the property—inside and out. Make a list of any issues that will need repair. Talk to neighbors and ask if they noticed when your tenants moved out. 

Review the situation leading up to the unexpected tenant departure. 

  • Were they bad tenants? 
  • As their landlord, did you fulfill all obligations for a safe living environment?

The circumstances around your tenants leaving without providing notice can impact how you proceed. 

If the Tenants Are At Fault

If they were bad tenants, consult your state’s renting laws to determine what actions you can legally take against your former tenant.

  • Get an estimate on any repair costs. 
  • Include the costs of loss rent starting from the day you know they left the property. 
  • Try to find contact information. Let the defaulting tenants know you are pursuing compensation for repairs and vacating the property without fulfilling the terms of the lease.

An empty room with a fireplace that has a damaged mantle, scuffed and dirty hardwood floors, and teal paint on the wall that has white showing through.

Consult with a property management company to use their resources. They might be able to find your missing tenants and guide you through the actions you can take. 

If There is a Tenant-Landlord Dispute

As an excellent landlord, you're working hard to protect your business and serve your tenants well. Quality landlords have nothing to worry about when it comes to some of the potential landlord-fault issues that could lead to a tenant breaking a lease. 

However, sometimes mistakes happen. If you violated any terms of the rental agreement, the tenant could have the right to leave without notice

Review any requests the tenants made for maintenance or reasonable accommodation. Be sure you've responded to every request in the best way to take care of your tenants within the rules of your lease agreement. 

If you weren't able to respond in a way that was favorable for a tenant's request, consult with a lawyer or West Bloomfield property management company to find out how to proceed. 

Respond Appropriately When a Tenant Breaks a Lease

When a tenant vacates a property unexpectedly, it's a stressful situation. Be sure you address the issue as effectively and efficiently as possible.

JMZ Management can help you navigate the best response when a tenant breaks a lease. With our West Bloomfield property management experience, we've handled just about any tenant situation when it comes to early termination. 

Contact us for help dealing with these and other difficult tenant-lease situations! We offer Guaranteed Rent in 59 days or you don't pay the leasing fee. Click the link below to learn more.

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Topics: landlord tips, tenant relations, rental property