Tenants wanna move out before lease is up

6 Replies

So I have tenants that are best friends. Over the weekend one tenant got into a car accident and said he wont have rent on the first due to the car payment issues. I said well, you are required to pay rent but Ill give you 7 days. He threw a fit and said he wants to move out. His bestfriend messaged me 3 hours later saying he has no money and cant pay rent on the first and wants to move out. I have 3 tenents in the house paying rent per room. Thats 2 tenants I am losing out of 3. Do I just let them move out? I cant literally make them stay. They both put down half rent as a security deposit and in the lease I said I will keep that if they move out before the lease is over....any suggestions???

when tenants break a lease, in most jurisdictions, they can be held liable for up to the entire rental amount but you are required to mitigate your losses in most states. this means you cannot collect easy money until their lease is up, and must find new renters in the meantime. once you find new renters, then you can charge for any time that unit is vacant.  

my personal philosophy is to use a carrot approach, rather than just keep their deposit. tell them they can both be held liable for entire contract amount, but if they keep the place clean while you show to prospects and leave the place in good condition it will limit their exposure. of course they should be held liable for any time unit is vacant, but your main goal should be to put new tenants in asap.

of course you have the option of taking their deposits and cutting them loose. your approach will depend on state laws and how nice you wanna be.

One key point here is to make sure you are knowledgeable on your state landlord/tenant law.  That being said, keep in mind--a judge can use wide discretion on adjudicating a case. We have found that just because it states something in the lease, if a tenant (or ex-tenant) decides to bring a landlord/tenant action, a judge may strike that point of the lease.  Of course, one can appeal any decision, but that is costly. 

Personally, our policy is to follow the letter of the law AND our lease clauses--no exceptions (l/t court aside).

We also have a lease clause stating forfeiture of deposit for early termination without 60-day written notice.  So, if your state allows, retain the deposit, send the proper notification (if required) to tenant's forwarding address, and move on to find new tenants that (hopefully) will be better. 

It will also put the remaining tenant on notice that you running a business and are fair, but firm. This kind of thing happens more often that any landlord wants, so screen, screen, screen and hope for the best, but be prepared. 



You may want to update your lease for a early termination fee.  Remind them if they don't pay you could evict them and explain how this will affect them in renting in the future.  Review your lease and state laws.   

I agree with Andrew on this one. At this point, your goal should be to get them out as cleanly as possible. In my experience, it is cheaper for me in the long run to make short term concessions. I would offer to waive the penalty as long as they cooperate with getting someone new in just after they move out. That way, they still have a reason to work to keep you happy.

If they can't or don't want to be there, get them out and get it re-rented as soon as you can.  Get their move out notification with a firm date in writing as soon as possible and start marketing the vacant rooms.  The date needs to be very soon or they need to at least pay partial December rent to get a date later than what eviction would get you.

Sounds like there is no issue with keeping the deposit as a lease breaking fee.  I would try prorating them for vacant days until you can get it re-rented as well, but depends on your jurisdiction.  Plan on it not being collectable, but you could send them the bill as the security deposit return, then another warning, then just turn it into collections to minimize the time and energy you have to invest in it.

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