Breach of Contract - any ideas how to resolve?

4 Replies

Our tenants’ lease just renewed in May for one more year. Just after it renewed, we found out that there are two unauthorized occupants, both with misdemeanors and additional pets. We asked one of the tenants to resolve the pet issue verbally, but the pets are still there. We just found out about the extra occupants and that they have been there for 3 months. My partner wants to write them a letter to resolve both issues and proceed with eviction if unresolved. I was thinking of asking them to give us an increased month’s rent deposit along with their own 30 day notice if not resolved (at this point I’d be willing to let them out of their 1 year lease early). Is there a different angle we could take?

Originally posted by @Jordan T.:

Well your lease agreement should have verbiage allowing you to evict if the lease agreement has been breached. Odds are, if you told them to fix this issue verbally, and they haven't already, I would evict and get new tenants.

Thanks Jordan.  Those clauses are both in our agreement.  At this point I guess we're leaning toward an official letter to them, then possible eviction.

Establish good minimum criteria to rent, screen well, have a strong rental agreement (well written, thorough, signed and dated), enforce your rental agreement, do regular property inspections, and stay alert. Be respectful, firm and fair. Stay calm.

In our rental agreement we charge a $50 fee for each unauthorized occupant and $50 for each unauthorized pet. Plus we require their immediate removal and serve a 10-day Notice to Comply. If the tenant does not cooperate, we serve a 20-day Notice to Terminate Tenancy. This is a "no cause" termination and it is easier for us than arguing in court about the violations. We use month to month rental agreements so we can do this.

Each state and local jurisdiction has their own landlord-tenant laws, so you will need to follow yours. If your rental property is in California, you may have a tougher time as your options will be different and more tenant friendly. Read your rental agreement carefully and enforce it. Know landlord-tenant law for your jurisdiction. Be aware that unauthorized occupants can become tenants, whether you like it or not, if they stay a certain duration or meet certain criteria for establishing tenancy.

If I were you, I would immediately serve legal notice to enter the rental unit. Be aware that if a tenant is breaking one rule of the rental agreement, they are likely breaking others. Look for other lease violations. Take photos of the unauthorized occupants, pets, cars and other evidence of lease violations. Get a copy of photo ID for every person in the dwelling, like a driver's license.

Schedule a face-to-face meeting with the tenants whose names are on the rental agreement and in that meeting outline all lease violations and what the tenants must do to remedy the situation and the timeline for doing so. Ask them to sign a document that states their awareness of the lease violations and what they agree to do to comply. Stay within the law.

Create a paper trail and a timeline of events. A letter may help document your attempt to bring them back into compliance, but it is not enough. Serve legal notices for each lease violation. You will need good documentation if they do not comply, especially if you need to proceed with eviction. Eviction is not an easy remedy. Eviction is time consuming and expensive. Nip this in the bud before it gets to that point.


Marcia Maynard, Fischer Properties | Podcast Guest on Show #83