Husband tells wife to leave, want me to remove her from new lease

13 Replies

Husband and wife with 5 kids rent from me, there was a domestic disturbance and the police where called. The husband filed for a divorce and wants the wife and her 3 kids to leave. Now at the same time their lease with me is expiring, and the husband asked me to write a new lease with just him and his 2 kids as tenants.

My initial thought is that since she is on the lease she has some rights and if i just remove her from the lease I could end up with problems. Yesterday both the husband and wife called me asking what was going to happen. 

My answer to both of them was I am a landlord not a marriage counselor, I suggest you both work this out calmly and I am looking into who has what rights. 

The husband has always been the only wage earner since they have been tenants. I would lease to him again since he pays on time and they keep the house clean.

So can I write a new lease for just the husband and his kids, or will this get me in legal trouble. She has a divorce attorney, so I want to be sure I do this correctly.

Since their current lease is expiring, write a new one with the husband as the tenant.

I've been reading Gail's posts on this site and another site for years and she consistently gives great advice.  

I agree with her but let me expand on this a bit.  If it was me I would do whatever is necessary to end the current lease as soon as possible, whether by me or by the two tenants.  This may mean the wife needs to give you written notice.  In GA, landlord must give 60 day notice or have it written in the lease, that the lease will not become a month to month.  Tenants only have to give 30 day notice.   

Once I had confirmation of intention to terminate the current lease then and only then would I sign a new lease with the husband.  

I will say that in most instances it makes more sense (unless you really want to get rid of one tenant or the remaining tenant absolutely refuses to extend the lease with vacating tenant's name still on it) to simply extend the lease, because you have two (or more) people to go after which increases your chances of recovering your money.  

"At the same time" their lease is expiring, do you mean it expires at the end of June? Does the lease agreement require the tenant to give you a written notice to renew? Did either party do that? Does an expiring lease convert to month-to-month if there is no notice to renew? I only work with MTM, so forgive me for asking such basic questions about leases. I understand it may differ from state to state and by what the lease says.

Did you only receive a verbal request to renew from the husband? What does the wife want to do? Seems you have one property and what will soon be two households. I would renew with the one that is most qualified to rent. I would also be flexible to let the outgoing party out of their lease agreement early.

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

I always designate in our agreements who the primary tenant is, naming the one with the highest likely hood to be able to continue paying.

Something to think about is the security deposit; will the wife expect any of it when she moves out? I won't refund any of it until all parties move out, so can they work that out? Offer to give her a good tenant reference if she is deserving to help her get resituated. Pay to change the locks as soon as she is off the lease.

I'm assuming the domestic violence charges are against her not him? If not, consider letting the lease expire and get all new tenants   DV charges will just lead to more headaches. 

Originally posted by @Michele Fischer:

I always designate in our agreements who the primary tenant is, naming the one with the highest likely hood to be able to continue paying.

Something to think about is the security deposit; will the wife expect any of it when she moves out? I won't refund any of it until all parties move out, so can they work that out? Offer to give her a good tenant reference if she is deserving to help her get resituated. Pay to change the locks as soon as she is off the lease.

I'm assuming the domestic violence charges are against her not him? If not, consider letting the lease expire and get all new tenants   DV charges will just lead to more headaches. 

Can you explain what the benefits are for having a primary tenant?  I have all 18+ residents as tenants.  That way I can go after all tenants increasing my odds of success (you probably still can go after secondary tenants).  When dealing with them I treat them as a single entity.  One check, one security deposit, one security dep refund.   It is up to them to sort it all out.  

Wow Chris, good question. I have had rentals for 10+yrs myself and this situation is fairly common to me but with people dating mostly. I do see where this situation could get sticky and also could be very simple depending on the reaction/decisions of the parties involved (husband & wife). I agree with your decision and statement telling them your not a marriage counselor to sort it out..lol. I probably would have done the same and they just might do so. If they are divorcing I am sure at some point one of them will decide to live elsewhere anyway. Here is a thought for the future. I have it written in my lease I may evict, at my discretion, if law enforcement is called to the property for any reason thus making the lease void and tenant agrees to move immediately and waives any rights to the apartment/residence. In this case I could avoid renting to either of them all together which has came in handy!! It sounds like the husband is trying to make it tough on his wife for sure but she definitely has rights being on the lease. If you really want to keep the guy and the wife also wants to stay then that is a whole new ballgame. I would say consult with your attorney b/c things like this probably vary state by state and situation by situation. I would think it could possibly end up on the divorce decree who gets to stay in the apartment if they really wanted to butt heads about it long enough!! Oh wow, who knows how this could turn out!! I would be interested to hear the end result!! I have some sneaky tactics for handling situations like this but I wouldn't promise they are the most suggested approaches either...lol. 

1. Send proper notice to end current lease as of expiration date or state's statue time frame (whichever is later). You must give notice that you aren't extending the lease even if the original lease term has expired. Time frames vary by state.

2. Sign new lease with husband starting the day after the old lease is deemed terminated. (You can do this the day after you do #1 so long as the effective start date of the new lease is the day after the expiration of the old lease.)

3. Give back the security deposit. This could be tricky in your case. You may need to make the check out to both current tenants.

4. Get a new security deposit from the husband.

Happy wife happy life. This guy must not have received the memo or things have just gotten that bad. In my opinion, this is one that is somewhat difficult to assess from a virtual message board. Though it does seem like a serious case of impending divorce since she has retained an attorney and he filed paperwork, is there any chance that they forget about it a week from now & forgive each other? If not, I'd take the @Mark Bookhagen  route if you want to keep the hubby as a tenant. But change the locks for peace of mind. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned & you definitely don't want her to have access to the place once he's given her the boot.

You have mentioned that both have inquired as to what you are going to do, so it seems that both want to do this.

The lease is almost up, so I would allow them to do it. Have both of them sign something that you are willing to let her out of the lease and she's agreeing to it.

Their lease is almost up, so if you don't do it, he might just decide to move somewhere else to not have to deal with her. If you leave her on the lease she might create more problems, visiting unexpectedly, because it's still 'her home' and thus she has rights.

If they're both in agreement and are willing to give that in writing, I would see no problem in creating a new lease for him, since he's already the one with the income. Better than him moving and you'll having to look for another tenant.

Originally posted by @Michael Jobe:

Happy wife happy life. This guy must not have received the memo or things have just gotten that bad. In my opinion, this is one that is somewhat difficult to assess from a virtual message board. Though it does seem like a serious case of impending divorce since she has retained an attorney and he filed paperwork, is there any chance that they forget about it a week from now & forgive each other? If not, I'd take the @Mark Bookhagen  route if you want to keep the hubby as a tenant. But change the locks for peace of mind. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned & you definitely don't want her to have access to the place once he's given her the boot.

 Nah there is no kiss and make up coming, she basically got drunk and beat on him pretty hard. He was full of defensive bruises and 5 kids said mom beat dad. I wasn't aware  but she has a drinking problem.  As bad as this sound they are good people who just had a bad run.  

Originally posted by @Michaela G.:

You have mentioned that both have inquired as to what you are going to do, so it seems that both want to do this.

The lease is almost up, so I would allow them to do it. Have both of them sign something that you are willing to let her out of the lease and she's agreeing to it.

Their lease is almost up, so if you don't do it, he might just decide to move somewhere else to not have to deal with her. If you leave her on the lease she might create more problems, visiting unexpectedly, because it's still 'her home' and thus she has rights.

If they're both in agreement and are willing to give that in writing, I would see no problem in creating a new lease for him, since he's already the one with the income. Better than him moving and you'll having to look for another tenant.

 I was told she is now moving out, but the lease ends on the 30th of June. My lease has an auto renew clause, so I am going tom have to give notice, and then renew the new lease with the husband. Or see if i can get them to sign her release leike you mentioned.

@Jared K.  I would be interested to hear if your cancellation clause would hold up. I like the idea, but just because we write things in the lease does not always mean it will hold up in court.

Originally posted by @Michele Fischer:

I always designate in our agreements who the primary tenant is, naming the one with the highest likely hood to be able to continue paying.

Something to think about is the security deposit; will the wife expect any of it when she moves out? I won't refund any of it until all parties move out, so can they work that out? Offer to give her a good tenant reference if she is deserving to help her get resituated. Pay to change the locks as soon as she is off the lease.

I'm assuming the domestic violence charges are against her not him? If not, consider letting the lease expire and get all new tenants   DV charges will just lead to more headaches. 

I like your ideas. In the state of IN if any domestic abuse happens in front of children both parents get arrested and charged. At least thats what I have been told, i didnt look up the statute. I believe that she did the physical abuse, or he hit her with only his forearms because his arms where extremely bruised and i seen no marks on her.  I have zero tolerance for any man hitting a woman, and if I thought for one second he had hit her, well I would be handling this very differently.