Your tenant wants to leave early, what should you do? As a landlord sometime you will find yourself in this situation, your tenant wants to move out before the lease ends. As a property owner, it is important that you know how to handle these situations to make sure you don’t get into any legal trouble and follow the correct protocol.
Most likely an unexpected event has happened to your tenant and he/she has to move out. Tenants may want to break their lease for many reasons, personal, professional or because you are not managing well the property. Now a lease agreement usually guarantees the occupancy of the tenant for a year. The lease is a legally binding contract. It is a written agreement /contract between the tenant and the property owner, or a representative of the owner, outlining a fixed amount of time (typically one year) and the terms and conditions for living at a rental property in exchange for rent. When the fixed amount of time (the “term” of the lease) is over, the lease ends. Hopefully, there are no loopholes in your lease agreement and it clearly states what will happen if your tenant breaks the terms of the lease.
A lease agreement will protect you as a landlord but there are also laws that protect the tenant. Depending on the tenant’s reason, you might be legally bound to release the tenant. So the first thing to do is to find out the reason your tenant wants to move out.
Legally Justifiable Reasons:
Military or Active Duty: If your tenant is called for military or active duty, then the Federal law allows people in the military to break their lease to start active military duty. The law applies to people in the armed forces, the activated National Guard, the National Oceanic, and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Public Health Service. They still need to give a 30-day notice.
Domestic Violence: This depends on what state you reside but some in some states the landlord-tenant laws allows survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking to break a lease and move if necessary.
Unlivable housing: If you have failed as a landlord and your property is no longer habitable, then the tenant can legally break the lease. The legal term is called: constructive eviction. As a landlord you are required to keep rental premises livable—this is called implied warranty of habitability.
Once you know your tenant’s reason you can work with them and proceed with whatever lease terms are and try to fill the vacancy it as soon as possible.