signing lease for new tenant while its occupied

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My current tenant (my first) is moving out after the lease ends in two months. They are great tenants and moving out because they bought a house and notified me well in advance.  They are also ok in letting me show the house. 

I am trying to rent out the house immediately after its vacated mainly because I am going out of town in a week after they move out. I wont return until after 5 months so if I don't get to rent it out right away I will at minimum loose out 6 weeks.

The house is kept in a good enough condition to show.  My question is if I get a qualified tenant who is willing to move in after 2 months, how do I make sure they don't change their mind later on.  Can I get a deposit to hold? would I be able to get into a lease agreement when there is already a tenant in there and obviously it has to be cleaned and inspected by the new tenant before they move in.

Appreciate your advice.


Actually, there are many people that like to plan way in advance.  We actually signed a lease and paid the security deposit and first month's 5 months in advance because we knew it was exactly what we wanted for the year we would be there.  The key, I think, is to at least make the security deposit a "holding fee" to be credited toward the security deposit when they move in and get the deposit, first month's and lease signed all at once.   There are good threads on here if you search for holding fee and some even have sample contracts that are great.   Last year, I actually worked with some new tenants as they only gave me 1/2 the deposit to hold it 2 months in advance, then signed the lease and paid the other funds 3 weeks later, then moved in once it was vacant.   While I was a bit nervous until they signed the lease and paid the rest, it worked out well.

Wanted to add that you need to check your landlord/tenant laws as I was so nervous because in MD, if you sign a lease but don't come through, the landlord can be held liable for paying for temporary lodging for the new tenant if his unit is not ready for any reason, but I was very certain of the dates and condition of the unit or I wouldn't have done it.  

Thanks @Lynn M. I read in some other thread that the tenant can withdraw even if they have put a deposit because they didn't get to inspect the house in a vacant condition.  Not sure how valid/legal that is but I guess I will have to take that chance.

IMHO you should sign the lease, collect first month's rent and security deposit (in cash or equivalent) and hand over the keys all at once.  If you sign the lease ahead of time, then, as you identify above, the tenant can still back out.

I think two months out is way to early to find a new tenant.  I don't even start trying in earnest until a couple weeks before the old tenant is scheduled to leave.  While I'm sure there are exceptions, my experience has been most people are seriously looking only a few weeks before they need to move.  And any one who's looking monthly in advance is a waste of time.  They're just window shopping.

And there's always a risk the old tenant won't leave.  The times I've had a new tenant ready to move in before the old tenant leave I've been very clear that I cannot guarantee a move in date until the old tenant is out.  If the old tenant decides to become a problem at the last minute, you may have weeks or longer to do an eviction and a set out.

I prefer a clean break from the previous tenant before I sign a new one.  It's less stress.  

I have this all the time. I have a solid lease, a start date and their deposit. My lease also has a buy out clause that tells them they are welcome to give 60 days notice and pay a 2 month fee to move out!

Get a deposit and signed lease. As long as the dates on the lease are correct you should be fine.

Then get the first month's rent before they move in.

I would take the full deposit.  the deposit and the inspection form are 2 separate transactions.  I would ask for first months rent also but let them negotiate out of it.  Remember you are the landlord.  You need to make sure you have the upper hand at all times.

Sure, you can sign a contract that starts in 2 months.  I'd put in a clause that says if you can't deliver it on the day agreed on, that the tenant has the right to cancel the contract with all money to be refunded (just in case the other tenant isn't out in time).

I used to put in a clause that said the new tenant had 3 days upon move-in to bring any issues to the attention of the manager, that were not apparent when they initially saw the property.  Something like that.

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