Lease termination - landlord's discretion?

3 Replies

We all have tenants breaking their leases for a variety of reasons.  Most leases spell out explicitly what happens when you break your lease.  No ambiguity there.

However, occasionally. I find myself as a landlord, depending on the reason for breaking a lease, try to give a tenant a break - by imposing a lesser penalty than stipulated in the lease IF I was given adequate notice prior AND it's something beyond anyone's control such as a job transfer or family situations etc...AND the tenant has been a good tenant all along...

So in such a case I gave "Joe" a break and didn't charge the full penalty agreed to in the lease.

Now tenant "Bill" who lives next door to "Joe" wants to break the lease and I referenced the early termination terms and clauses are all clearly stated in the lease agreement but he said "I heard that Joe didn't have to do that..."

I made an exception at my discretion to deviate from the terms for a number of reasons.

Could I get into trouble for not enforcing the terms equally?  Could someone twist this into some sort of discrimination claims?

Is Bill a protected class?

Treat all tenants the same or you risk voiding your lease. Favoritism is not a valid excuse to justify ignoring a lease. 

Unless your lease states specific cases in which the lease should not be applied you have violated your own lease conditions. You have likely made the clause null and void in the event a tenant challenges it.

The argument used by a tenant would be that their reason for breaking the lease is just as valid as any one else's. 

Your choice, your risk.

No "Bill" is not in a protected class.

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