GA Tenant telling me they are breaking the lease - what do I do?

5 Replies

Newbie here. I purchased my first rental on August 30th, a duplex that already had tenants. Both tenants had been there for more than 5 years so I wrongfully assumed both were stable. As soon as I took possession, both tenants signed a new 12 month lease with me and both paid rent in Sept. One of the tenants informed me on 9/21 that she intended to move back home to be with her ailing mother and father. She has no intention of following the stipulations in the lease for breaking it (45 day notice, rent due during the notice, plus an additional months rent). I'm ok with making some concessions and working with her outside the specifics in the lease but I want to get them in writing from her.

Can we just do a move-out agreement that lays out what we are doing differently?  I just want something in writing.  And if I do that, can I try to rent the unit out immediately?  Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated.

What does the lease say about moving out early? You could try to do an agreement with them, it doesn't have to be fancy just type out what you will both do and then sign it. Most of the time though these types of agreements do not work out and you end up losing more money when it is all said and done. 

The most important thing is you get possession back. You can try and take them to small claims court later if you feel like it (its not worth it) but if they move out on their own volition and don't damage the place that is usually the best you can hope for. If she won't pay the extra money just explain to her that as long as she gets out when she says she will and leaves it broom clean, you won't take her to court and ruin her credit. Its like cash for keys without the cash since you are already losing money.  

@Peter M. - Thanks for the reply.  That is basically what I was thinking.  The lease requires a 45 day notice, rent paid during the notice plus an additional month and a $100 admin fee.  I just want her out ASAP and the place not trashed.  She is supposed to be out Oct 1st and I'm meeting her that afternoon.  If everything is good with the unit we'll just part ways and move on.

Rent would be late Oct 5th so Oct 6th I could start a formal eviction process but like you said, that just doesn't seem worth it.  More of a threat than anything else.

I will put it in writing and let the tenant go. My personal feeling a lease is an agreement not a metal leash. A metal leash can be cut off. Talk her that you like the opportunity to show and start thinking about deposit and repairs.

As for the eviction, in CA one needs to go to court. It may take 1-2 months to schedule and find out court can not handle it and get rescheduled.

This could be an opportunity to do some remodeling, painting and raise the price in places where there is rental control.

Good luck,

Sam Shueh

@Taylor Larkin I agree with the other responses, try to work with her since she was up front with you, but make sure you are not putting yourself out either because you could take recourse according to the lease. I would try to work with her and definitely get any agreement in writing. I have even asked tenants in this situation if I can start showing their unit immediately to get it rented out asap after they leave. Good luck! In times like this you will rack up some good karma points for working with a tenant that has some tough personal things going on.

@Sam Shueh - Thanks.  I agree.  Shes leaving to go take care of ailing parents so I understand needing to leave.  And I'm ok with compromising, just not ok with all the compromise being on me.  And yes, her rent was at least $100 below market so at least on the other end of this I'm collecting more rent.

@Jordan Knoll - I appreciate the encouragement.  Doing my best to be gracious but firm.  She's already complained about the For Rent sign because people are "peeping in her windows".  Told her she forced my hand with that by moving out so quickly.  Just want to make sure I can turn the unit over as quickly as possible and that once she's gone I'm not dealing with her anymore.