Tenant wants out after 3 days

11 Replies

On Friday, I signed a 12 month lease with my tenant. She paid the security deposit and first month's rent. By Monday she called, saying that she didn't want the house anymore and she wants a full refund. Her cited reason is due to the condition of the house. While filling out the move-in condition sheet, she noticed some minor issues- signs of water under the kitchen sink and by the laundry tub, roof sealing not complete, garage light burnt out, and signs of a mouse (I have not seen anything that would lead me to believe a mouse has lived there). I told her that I could have everything taken care of within a week, but she still wants out. 

I don't want to keep a tenant who doesn't want to be there, but I feel I'm owed something for the trouble of relisting and finding a new tenant. Per the terms of our lease, I can take one month's rent plus a fee for cancellation. Is it reasonable or should I consider giving her a full refund?

She'll probably never be satisfied, some never are, and you can offer to do a lease termination. 

Terms of termination could be she's out in 5 days, she gets deposit back and you retain the balance of months rent. 

Really depends on what you want to charge for a termination fee, how soon she can agree to leave.

some charge 2 months rent.. 

Check you state landlord tenant laws for lease termination fees so you know what the standard is you can charge. 

She might just decide to stay once you've repaired the items.. 

@Tom Herzog ,

We had a similar situation, where a potential signed the lease, paid security deposit, and then the day after the lease started her father apparently did a crime search, and freaked her out because the area had a bad reputation.      We were in your shoes, didn't want someone there that wasn't long term...  so we told her, we'll start advertising it, do showings and try to get it rented ASAP, and she is responsible for the first month rent, or until we can get someone else to take over the lease.    We got  a new family in there  within 2-weeks, and  she was happy that we were able to refund her some of the money.     Can you try something like this?

I love it when tenants view a lease as nothing more than toilet paper.

No "full refund" for this cookie.   This ain't WalMart where you get to change your mind once a real estate contract is signed.

It would appear you have lease termination clause in your lease.   Direct her to this one.

If she does not wish to use this (nor wait for you to address these minor repair issues...really; a burned out light in garage?) then her next option is for you to re-advertise the unit and once a replacement tenant is found (and a new lease is signed) she may move.  Perhaps she would enjoy the idea of applicants trooping through the place during this process.  This would get her mind off that burned out light bulb.


Cut a deal, and let her go. If you try to appease her, she will  more likely than not make your life miserable every day of the month. But don't give her a full refund. Not how it works. 

I’d give back the security deposit, but keep the rent. You have expenses too and no rental for 1-2 months has to be worth something.

When was she supposed to move in, November 1? Did you have any other applicants interested before you selected her that you can contact and see if they still want it? How quickly do you think you can rent it again?

Depending on how much work you might have to do would depend on what I would return to her. I would point out the terms in the lease that say what you can keep but maybe just keep one months rent and forget any fee. 

Of course you could just return it all with a letter pointing out what you could have kept but that you are returning it all.

I would also make sure you get her to sign a release and acknowledgement that she is canceling the lease.

I appreciate the feedback! It's sometimes easy to get sucked into the tenant's mindset and think a refund is reasonable. Now I have some good ideas to negotiate with. 

This tenant sounds like they will be a nuisance. I would give her something back but not everything . It also depends on how quickly you can rent it out. Perhaps let her know that if she moves out ASAP that you will only charge her until you can fill the apartment. Then try to quickly re rent it. She will likely become a headache tenant so it is best for you that she leaves.

My recommendation: write up an agreement that stipulates when she is moving out and that she remains responsible for rent and utilities until a new tenant takes over. If that happens in 15 days, she may get some money back. If it takes two months, she may be on the hook for additional rent.

I have had tenants break leases. I let them out because no point having a tenant who cannot pay or doesnt want to stay. But I do not refund any money until I have a new tenant in place and all my costs are covered. I return the rest. I think thats fair.

The standard CAR contract for early termination is tenant shall responsible for lost rent, rental commissions, advertising expenses and painting costs necessary to ready premises for re-rental.

CAR = California Association of Realtors

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