Buying a house with a Tenant in it, wants to break lease

9 Replies

We are buying a house and closing soon. During my final walk through, the tenant pulled me aside and said that he wanted to break the lease. I told him that the lease cannot be broken. That, just like I can't come in and write you a new lease you can't break the original lease, it comes with the house.

He made some key comments the more the conversation went on and I politely maintained that the original lease stands

  • 1. He was not fully aware of what his wife was doing when they signed the original lease, but I reviewed the lease and both he and his wife signed it.
  • 2.He stated that he was military and that there are stipulations other than receiving new orders to a new base that allow him to break the lease, he gave TDY as an example. I know that military can break a lease for a new assignment at a new base, and I commented that absolutely you can break the lease for being assigned new orders to a new location. That’s all I said about that, but in my mind, I did not know of any other reasons they would be allowed to break it. I thought TDY was something temporary but his home would still be here. We are researching this item.
  • 3.He stated that he was prepared to take whatever legal impacts this might cause him in order to take care of his family.

I politely ended the conversation with a few statements about how I was going to have a weed company come out and spray the lawn, and left.

I thoroughly reviewed the lease again. It’s a pretty good lease, I might copy some of the items from it. It states that he can break the lease at any time under these conditions…

  • 1.He forfeits all deposits
  • 2.He must pay for all costs to lease the property to a new tenant (i.e. posting fees, rental signs, etc.)
  • 3.He must pay full rent until its leased again
  • 4.He must pay ½ months rent in an early termination fee.

If it comes up again I intend to offer that to him as an alternative.

There are about 9 months left on the lease, not sure why he would want to lose the entire deposit to go to another location an pay a new deposit and a pet deposit. It would cost him more money.

Why am I posting this? Just to get any advice on how to navigate this appropriately and keep it positive.

Thanks for any help... 

Personally , I would let him forfeit his deposit and possibly another months rent while I look for another tenant,  I don't really want anyone living in my property that doesn't want to be there. People can be spiteful, and it's not worth the potential hassle that an unhappy tenant can cause. 

I agree with @Marie-therese Tai you really don’t want to force someone to stay just because of the lease. If it were me I’d let him know that you reviewed the lease and per the lease terms, he owes $xxx. BUT, since we all want to work together, you’ll offer him $yyy IF he leaves the house clean, free of junk, and is fully vacated on whatever date. You get most of the termination fees and such, and he feels like you’re doing him a favor.

Let him out based on the letter of the lease, make him pay all monies as it states. If you do not stick to the lease you should remove the language from your next tenants lease.

He will leave regardless so you may as well inform him of his costs up front. A lease has little to do with when tennats decide to move.

I support what everyone said above. In addition, this is an inherited tenant which you know nothing about.  Inherited tenants increase risk, as they were not screened by you.

I am leaning towards the letter of the lease.  I am wondering if he thought that the house sale did not obligate him to the lease and thought he could renegotiate it.  I also agree that I inherited the tenants.  However, the guy is a professional and has assets, furthermore his wife has hung pictures all over the house, I don't think he really wants to leave.

If the terms work for you, go for it. Making money and then placing your own tenant is better than forcing someone to stay that doesn't want to.

All,  wanted to give you an update.  Tenants appear to be great people and are paying rent.  We found out there are issues with the house, after our due diligence, that the previous property mgmt company did not address.  The main one was that the AC is loud and is right outside the master keeping the tenants up at night.  This only happens intermittently so we did not see it during inspections, and I did not see it when I went over there to fix a few things but the tenant has sent us a video of it happening.

I understand from the tenant, and the previous property mgmt company that the unit was replaced a few months ago. I also understand that the tenants had complained about it to the previous property mgmt company and they sent out a tech but it did not get fixed.  

We spoke to the previous mgmt company and they directed us to the company that installed the new unit.  We contacted them and they sent someone out yesterday to inspect the unit.  He stated that, they have seen this in some of the units of this make and model that they have installed, and stated that he added some screws.  We received a text at 9:00 last night with another video of the noise.

I see two options for me here, any guidance would be helpful.

1. I plan to continue to work with the HVAC company that installed the unit.  Even though I am not the original owner, should I not be covered for any potential repair costs?  This unit would certainly be under warranty.  This is the route I want to pursue

2. Last resort, way down the road.  If this item 1 dead ends do I have a small claims case?  The previous owner knew there were issues with the unit because the property mgmt co and the realtor work in the same office.  I have a signed disclosure stating they know of no issues with the AC. 

Any help would be appreciated.

Stay on the e HVAC company. Noise issues are all repairable. At this time I would pressure them to replace the unit (warranty should be transferable) and they will fix the noise prroblem.

Thanks.  I spoke to the company that installed it.   They are listed as a remodeling company.  He has gone out twice, once for the previous company and once for us.  Has never heard the noise, I actually did not hear it when I was there either.  Overall polite conversation but stated that his work was for the previous owner but that the AC warranty is transferable. I stated that my expectation was that he stand behind his work regardless of who the owner is.  He agreed to meet me there to try to see if he could hear it.  I am going to try to get the receipts and warranty info from the previous rental company.

Should his labor be transferable to me or do I have to deal with the manufacture?