Renter signed lease but now wants to change move in date

9 Replies

I have a renter who signed a lease and turned in a security deposit to start renting at the beginning of July according to the lease. They signed it a few weeks ago. They called me today wanting to know if they could move in August 15th instead because one of them was diagnosed with cancer. So they want me to continue to hold it for them which would amount to half of June, all of July, and half of August without them paying. They signed a month to month lease.

What are my options at this point? 


@Carolyn Walters,  you signed a lease with only a security deposit?  What about the first month's rent?  

So sorry they say they were diagnosed with cancer, chicken pox, sinusitis or whatever, but the lease is the lease.  If you want to donate 2 months rental income to their favorite charity, then do it.  Otherwise, cut them loose.

If a homeowner is diagnosed with XYZ or any other 'I can't pay my mortgage because... (fill in any reason), what do you think the bank/lender would say?  Word of wisdom: run your rental like the business it is, or be prepared to have it run you into the ground.

I'm not being a hardass.  I really enjoy helping others.  But I really HATE when others STEAL from me. So I do my best to prevent that.  Ask me how I learned about that.  LOL.

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That's a tough situation for them, but honestly, a Month to Month lease doesn't sound promising in the long run. 

I can't add much else due to limited experience, but you might save head aches down the line by resolving this ASAP. move on....

@James De Stefano  10 years and 20 SFHs later, M2M leases are the best lesson I've learned.  You can deal with misbehaving tenants immediately. The important thing is, they know it.  

I have several tenants on M2M for 5+ years and never lost a tenant early because of it.

Long tern leases only constrain the owner. Tenants will leave when they need to leave. You weed out the uncertain ones during the screen.

Best, Terrell


It may depend on the rent laws of the city/state of your property. Since I am familiar with California, I will talk about options where I am located.

A signed residential lease is binding whether the tenant moves in early or not at all. So unless the lease states otherwise, the tenant would be liable for rent beginning in July. At worst, the tenant can give you a 30 day notice to terminate immediately and you would keep most of the security deposit based on the timeline.  However, you would be out a tenant (if that matters to you).

You many give the tenant the option to terminate the lease. How much of the security deposit to return is something you may negotiate with the tenant.

If the tenant does not move in at all and the lease is still in force, then you would either go through the eviction process (for nonpayment of rent in July) in order to gain possession of the property or immediately give 30 day notice to terminate the lease. Under normal circumstances, the latter would be preferable. In either case, you may be out at least 1 month rent.

If you wish, you may decide to negotiate a little to accommodate the tenant. If it would cost a certain amount of money and time to advertise and show new potential applicants, you can offer to deduct that amount from the tenant's full liability and see what the response is.

Hope that all makes sense. Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

@Carolyn Walters this is pretty simple. Tell them no. They can abide by the agreement they signed or forfeit their deposit and find another rental.

It's pretty common for people to ask you to hold a rental off the market. It's not smart to agree to this. My policy is to hold a property for up to 14 days and then the tenant becomes 100% responsible for rent, utilities, landscaping, etc. I get applicants all the time that ask if they can rent a place but not move in for 30 - 60 days. Unbelievable.

You've already agreed to hold it for a month which is costing you loss of rent and utilities, possibly more. Do not let them take you for even more.

I completely agree with @Terrell Garren regarding the M2M leases.  There never was a more beautiful thing in the buy and hold business.

Hopefully your lease addresses non-performance, but even if it doesn't I would tell them to cut bait or fish.

Moving forward, ALWAYS collect ALL move-in costs BEFORE signing the lease and taking the unit off the market.  As @Marc Winter mentioned, you should already have the first month's rent as additional collateral.

I do not sign the lease and cease marketing until all move-in fees are collected in guaranteed funds.  No exceptions.  That way, you don't have an executed lease (where you have to evict a non-occupying tenant) until they have all their cards on the table.

That is not a reasonable request.  If they want to change their move in date and pay rent from when the lease starts, that's fine.  Otherwise, no.  You'd be losing July and half of August's rent.  They are in violation of the lease since they won't be paying July's rent.  

Option 1: Let them know you will be looking for another tenant to rent it for July 1.

Option 2: Give them $50 off the rent for July and $25 for August.

Attempt to find a new tenant asap. If you lose any money because of it, you will take the loss out of their damage deposit, and return the rest. It's a simple process, and also state law where I live. 

And MTM leases stink here. 1 year is extremely common. Come back and tell me it's the only way to go when you live in an area that has 30" of snow and 10 degrees below zero for months on end and when you have vacancy in December, January, February, March. And no, not all areas do tenants just leave in the middle of their leases all the time. If I was in an area where MTM worked best, I would immediately implement it. Just remember, not all things work in all areas, and most tenants honor their contract.