Fallout from tenant breakup. How would you handle this?

16 Replies

Just wondering how other landlords would handle this situation. I would like your input before saying what I did.

Tenants are a young unmarried couple, no kids. Man has the bulk of the income, woman can't afford the rent on her own. They split up, & she moves out.

He texts us, wanting her off the lease, and has changed the locks.

I text her, she agrees & gives an address to send the paperwork to. 3 weeks later she asks if he is allowed to lock her out while she is still on the lease. She also says he has threatened her and her dog.

Lease ends August 31.

@Sylvia B. Write up an amendment to remove her from the lease. Send to her for signature, then to him, then to you. Docusign can have that done in 20 mins if all parties are agreeing. Until that document is signed, end your involvement beyond getting the docs signed.

Require a key to the new lock be provided also, if I understand correctly the male tenant changed it?

And insert a fee for lease requested amendments. Including ending lease early. I charge $125 to reprogram locks and $500 if they end early.

Tenant should not have changed the locks IMO. If he wanted to insure she didn’t have a key (reasonable) he should have asked you to have them changed and paid for it, but not til AFTER she was off the lease. 

I would ask her why she hasn’t signed documents you sent her after verbally confirming she wanted off.  Threats/domestic issues are none of your concern, she should be calling the police not her former LL. What is your concern is getting her off the lease. 

The biggest issue to me is not the crazy chic who left ..it’s the fact the guy changed your locks weeks ago without your approval . If you want more drama in your life you should watch the lifetime channel instead of meddling in the tenants personal lives .

Originally posted by @Dennis M. :

The biggest issue to me is not the crazy chic who left ..it’s the fact the guy changed your locks weeks ago without your approval . If you want more drama in your life you should watch the lifetime channel instead of meddling in the tenants personal lives .

 He had our approval,  and we have keys. 

I would do nothing which is what I said above. Doing nothing is doing something lol.

Again don’t involve yourself in tenants lives. Not sure how many people have to tell you that for you to do that

Ok, here's how we are handling it.

He said the breakup was violent, she left, but was threatening to come back when he was away and tear things up. So he changed the locks with our approval and we have keys.  We have offered him a m2m lease starting 9/1, in his name alone.

She agreed to sign the paperwork removing her from the lease, but now says she won't sign until she gets all her stuff back. I told her that's between them, and she is responsible for rent payments and damage as long as she is on the lease.

Recently she sent this:

"Can he legally change the locks on the house without giving me a key?"  

"He's continuously withholding my property and threatened to kill the dog. [Blah, blah]"

Me: This is between the two of you. If there are threats made, talk to the police.

Her: I did. They said to ask my landlord about the locks being changed.  To find out if it's within legal rights to change them without me having access. 

This is why I posted the question. We do not want to be involved in anyone's drama. I referred her to the police, they bounced her back to us. 

I intend to keep telling her it's not our business, work it out with him, & call the police if necessary.

Just wondering if anyone else would have handled it differently.

If both tenants agree, write up something taking her off the lease and letting her know the security deposit continues with the lease until the end of BOTH peoples tenancy.  By being taken off the lease, she agrees that the security deposit will remain and go to only the person staying on the lease.  (they can work something out between themselves for her portion. )

Obviously, this is always messy, and I agree with others that you should avoid getting into the middle of the dispute, but I do think she has a point!  As long as she is on the lease, you can't just change the locks on her.  You owe her a key to the new lock, IMHO, or she could rightfully come after you.  It seems to me that from a lease standpoint she has been holding up her end of the deal, but you,, by locking her out, have not.  Also, make sure you issue a notice of non-renewal to her, if the lease requires that (many leases have auto renewal clauses unless notice is given). 

This sounds like a police  matter to me. Changing the locks is also a legal matter. He can get a restraining order against her. But changing the locks was technically not allowed while she was on the lease.

I had a couple who broke up not long after  moving in. My involvement was just removing him from the lease after he had moved out. It was a bad break up, but if there were threats, etc. then that's a police matter, not a landlord issue. Until she agrees to get off the lease she is technically a tenant there. For him to stop her from being a tenant he would need to go get a restraining order. Then you have something....

Unfortunately it sounds like now your going to have to get involved because they have made a mess of the situation .you probably should not have let him lock her out by permitting the locks changed if she is also a tenant and on the lease . I’d schedule a time for her to get all her crap out of the house on one day . Give her a week to schedule a rental truck or borrow a trailer . Make it so it’s all wrapped up in one day instead of dragging on with her going back and fourth rubbing salt in the wound , ...then after her stuff is all out I’d have her sign off on the lease and free herself from the contract . Don’t you just love landlording ? It’s like babysitting adults

I had one tenant with a restraining order against the other. She was accompanied for removal of her stuff ( an officer was present). The other tenant was asked not to be there and was not there for move out. However there was no question regarding whose stuff was whose. Does someone here have a restraining order? He needs to sort it out or get a restraining order to block her entry unless she already signed off on being taken off the lease. If she did and is taking it back, she is SOL.

If I was locked out of my primary residence in which not only was I on the lease, but my belongings were still inside, I would have a major problem. 

You authorizing the lock changing put you right in the middle of this mess and was probably not the right (or legal?) thing to do. I'd get that figured out asap.