Tenant moving out on short notice

10 Replies

I have a tenant who's lease is up at the end of may. He had verbally to me told me that he was going to renew and be month to month about 2 weeks ago. Last week he told me that he was moving out yesterday. He's all gone now. Is there anything I can do??

What does your lease say about giving notice at the end of the lease period? does your city/state have any specific laws about giving notice at the end of a lease period?  if there isn't anything in your lease and no law on the books I don't think there is anything you can do.  If there is something in your lease or a law you can probably keep the security deposit up to the amount of notice the tenant was supposed to give. Regardless you should get the place ready to rent and advertise immediately.

That depends on your original contract. Did the tenant fulfill the original term? (Sounds like he did.)

Did the original (written?) contract state what was to happen at the expiration of the original term? (Like, was it automatically to become a month-to-month?)

Did the original contract provide for the tenant (and you) to give a (x-number of days) written notice before move out? (Sounds like he did not adhere to that - this may be his only fault in this case.)

Did the original contract state that any changes/extensions/etc would need to be in writing? (I would not take a verbal “extension” to court to begin with, but especially with that clause in the written contract.)

IMO (if your written contract supports the above,) you may reasonably be able to claim up to a month (unless you get a replacement tenant sooner than that - than the actual prorated loss) in court. Personally, in this type of situation, I would not bother. I’d try to re-rent it as soon as possible.

Next question for you is: if your original contract supports your claim (but be sure that it does), and you still have the security deposit, “charge” against that. In any case, be sure to let the former tenant know the itemized disposition of his security deposit within whatever amount of time your local laws say - in some jurisdictions, failing to do so may result in having to pay the tenant back more than just the original security deposit.

The tenant left no forwarding address to return the security deposit? Be sure to document every phone call (other methods) you use to track him down, especially if your efforts should fail in the end. You are not expected to take “heroic” steps - just a reasonable attempt to return the deposit/provide an itemized statement on its disposition.

Hello Maxwell,

The lease should have terms for giving notice.  If he didn't follow the required time frame then he is in default and the lease should also state the penalties as well.  Good luck

What town?  I invest heavily in RI and would highly recommend engaging with a quality attorney that knows the local ordinances.  RI is a tenant friendly state but most of that can be mitigated if an attorney writes/ manages your lease, sends notices, etc...   Good luck. 

No matter what the lease says, is it worth the time and lawyers fees trying to fight to get an month or so of money out of him?  If the place is clean, just list it and get another tenant in it.  Around here if I had an empty it would be filled the next week or sooner.  I wouldn't really need to list it, I could just call a couple people from my waiting list that I liked best.

All depends on the wording in your lease.  Typically, 30 days minimum written notice is needed, and without that, you are technically entitled to the security deposit. Again though, have your attorney fact check in accordance with your lease. 

I appreciate a piece of advice an attorney gave me years ago regarding unpaid rent and damages - Bad things will happen. Generally, your tenants will not have assets to go after. You will not recover the time, money and energy you spend chasing them. Make the necessary repairs, etc. get the place rented and move on with life.