Early termination of Lease by tenant

10 Replies

Need some advice from experienced landlords out there. Here's the situation.

I have a tenant who reported the discovery of bedbugs in their unit, on a bedspread and mattress. I responded immediately the next day with a pest control inspection by a certified exterminator and they found the presence of bedbugs. The soonest they could schedule the initial treatment was 6 days afterward. The tenant complied with the treatment procedure very well but the next day after the treatment sent a text that they could not live there any longer and they were moving out the next day. I believe they are blaming the bedbugs on a tenant 2 floors below them that I had evicted 3 months prior to them being discovered in the upstairs unit. The unit between these units had been vacant but was occupied for at lease 3 weeks prior to the discovery. There were some signs of bedbugs on a mattress left in the evicted apartment but I saw no signs of them while performing renovations to the unit. The end of the lease term is still 3 months away. The tenant did not give proper notice in accordance with the lease and what are my obligations to agreeing with the early termination? I believe I have the right to hold them to the lease terms but also want to do the right thing. Any other experiences similar to this. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks  

@Mike Morey

If they are good tenants, and I wanted to keep them, I would schedule treatment ASAP and put the tenants up in a hotel for the night. Being shown their safety and comfort are a priority may make them rethink about the hassle of moving.

You now have real evidence which will be used against you should your tenants sue.

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@Account Closed Initial treatment has already been done. No, not very good tenants so not a big loss. Not very clean unfortunately. 

So if I'm understanding your posts, you're both saying in order of not getting sued, cut my losses and refund their deposit? 

Thank you for your input.  

@Mike Morey
If you allow the tenant to break the lease and refund deposit, very unlikely for lawsuit.

If you try to enforce lease or retain deposit, the tenant probably has a solid case to sue (with evidence) and you may end up paying both your and your tenant's attorney fees.

At this point, use this as a valuable lesson. You haven't yet "lost" any money.

@Jim Y, Thank you. I see where you're coming from. Just to expand on being sued, what would they sue me for, loss of use?? I have done everything in accordance with Maine's bedbug law so I was just wondering the what legal course they could use. 

It can be hard, if not impossible, to determine who brought the bedbugs in a multifamily building. It sounds like you did what you are supposed to do. I wouldn't worry about getting sued. But it sounds like these folks weren't the greatest tenants anyway and they only have 3 months left. I would let them out of the lease and move on. Since its kind of a gray area, I would give them back their deposit unless there is damage to the unit.