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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 a vast number of tenants who rent single-family homes decide on long-term leases? On the other hand, life can be surprising and terribly unpredictable, and tenants may have to leave earlier than expected. It’s always ideal to have a plan in place, just in case.

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

Know and Follow the Law

When you and your tenant sign a lease, it’s essential to take into consideration that it’s a legally binding agreement. But, simply put, you both have certain rights and responsibilities governed by state landlord-tenant and other federal laws. These laws are in place to make it a point that both you and your tenant are treated fairly. Take for example, in most states, landlords are responsible for ensuring that the rental property is in good condition and must give notice to the tenant every time you’re planning on entering the property.

Failing to comply with landlord-entry regulations or respecting your tenant’s privacy can be legal grounds for lease termination in some 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 sound practice for any landlord, although it is not essentially required. Such a clause can help clarify the process a tenant may follow to break their lease agreement. In most instances, this includes imparting a certain amount of advance notice, many times about 30 days, and likely paying an early termination fee. By having this clause in place, both the tenant and the landlord can avoid any confusion or conflicts if the tenant needs to terminate the lease early.

A clause in your lease documents bestows your tenant a way out if needed, and safeguards that you do not come across financial hardship because of the broken lease.

After a Tenant Breaks a Lease

As a landlord, it’s very important to maintain cordial and respectful relationships with tenants, even if they happen to break the lease agreement. While it can be greatly frustrating when a tenant leaves before fulfilling their lease term, handling the situation cleverly and considerately is salient. In such cases, it’s helpful to document the problem and initiate a dialogue with the tenant to resolve the matter and collect any outstanding dues.

It’s the right idea to ask your tenant if you can inspect the property before they move away. This will help you identify any repairs that the tenant may be charged with 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 vital to keep a complete documentation of everything.

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

If you chance upon 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 constitutes filing a civil lawsuit with your local court. You must clearly show to the court that you have acted in a lawful and fair manner throughout the process, including all the steps you took to re-rent the property.

Hire a Professional Property Manager

One best thing to always make sure that your rental business is carried out in a professional and legally compliant manner is by employing the services of a reliable property management company. Such a company can help you excellently navigate the complexities of property management and guarantee that your rental property is managed efficiently and transparently.

At Real Property Management Focus, we aptly work on your behalf in Plano and nearby to produce mutually satisfying tenant relations and solve problematic changes. Contact us online or call us at 773-443-7439 to understand more when it comes to this subject and our other quality services.

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