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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 nearly all tenants who rent single-family homes prefer long-term leases? But, life can be risky and unpredictable, and tenants may have to leave earlier than expected. It’s always more appropriate and advantageous to have a plan in place, just in case.

Typical reasons for breaking a lease may be job relocations, home buying, changing familial status, or military duty. It’s primal to handle the situation with care and properly follow legal protocols.

Know and Follow the Law

When you and your tenant sign a lease, it’s imperative to take note that it’s a legally binding agreement. Yes, you both have certain rights and responsibilities governed by state landlord-tenant and other federal laws. These laws are in place to give importance that both you and your tenant are treated fairly. For instance, in nearly all states, landlords are responsible for seeing to it that the rental property is in good condition and must give notice to the tenant in entering the property.

Failing to keep landlord-entry regulations or respecting your tenant’s privacy can be legal grounds for lease termination in multiple 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 an awesome practice for any landlord, even while it is not demanded or required. Such a clause can help clarify the process a tenant may follow to break their lease agreement. Almost always, this includes offering a certain amount of advance notice, often 30 days, and perhaps paying an early termination fee. By having this clause in place, both the tenant and the landlord can avoid any confusion or argument if the tenant needs to terminate the lease early.

A clause in your lease documents brings your tenant a way out if needed, and properly ensures that you do not face financial hardship because of the broken lease.

After a Tenant Breaks a Lease

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

It’s an excellent idea to ask your tenant if you can inspect the property before they get out of the house. This will help you identify any repairs that the tenant may be blameworthy and responsible 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 integral to keep a complete documentation of everything.

Send your tenant a written reminder outlining their legal obligations under the terms of your lease agreement and what will happen if they don’t properly settle them. It’s good to send this notice by certified mail to put in place a paper trail of your actions.

If you encounter 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 entails filing a civil lawsuit with your local court. It is weighty for you to prove to the court that you have acted in a lawful and fair manner throughout the process, including all the lawful actions you took to re-rent the property.

Hire a Professional Property Manager

One excellent way to make sure that your rental business is conducted in a professional and legally compliant manner is by obtaining the services of a reliable property management company. Such a company can help you navigate the complexities of property management and determine that your rental property is managed more than satisfactorily and transparently.

At Real Property Management Innovation, we expertly work on your behalf in East Rockaway and nearby to institute mutually beneficial tenant relations and successfully overcome unexpected changes. Contact us online or call us at 516-570-9275 to understand more about this subject and our other quality services.


Originally Published on April 1, 2022

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