Tenants want to break lease

7 Replies

I have a set of tenants, 2 ladies who are friends, both names are on the lease. One of the tenants called, and would like to move out far before their lease is up, May2015. The other lady will not have the income to maintain living at the property, and thus will have to move out as well.
Does anyone have any advice on how to handle a situation such as this?
The tenant called me today in order to inform me of the situation, and understands that it's not good in any way.

Be straight with them. Tell them they are jointly responsible for the lease and that if the remaining one does not qualify alone they both need to move out.  Let them out early but insist on full payment through the month they move out (or even an extra month or two depending on whether your lease and state law allows for that - especially if it is hard to get qualified renters in your market). Do not let them just give up their deposit in lieu of last month rent. You need that to cover any repairs or cleaning that the tenants would be responsible for (in case they don't take care of it).

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My lease explicitly says they forfeit the deposit for early termination. So I should allow them to break the lease at the end of a given month without penalty besides forfeiture of deposit? That would be easier than going through any court process for sure. I did mention dinging the credit today, but that was more of a scare tactic for the more responsible tenant.

As long as they've given plenty of notice, I remind them of their obligation to the lease and remind them that they are responsible for that entire lease but... if they will keep the place neat and clean so that I can show it to new prospects I will try to fill it. When I get it filled they will be released from their lease obligation. But if I don't get it filled for a month or 2 after they leave they are still held responsible for that month or 2.

I like @Dick Rosen  suggestion. If you can avoid vacancy/turnover loss, you will come out ok. I have an early lease termination fee in the lease as well as 30 day notice for move out. I would hold them responsible for 30 days rent plus fee (usually 1-2 months rent). I would still only hold security deposit if repairs needed to be made but refund if in good shape. That is how my lease is set up, but haven't had to use it yet. (fingers crossed)