Are renters tied to their lease term?

5 Replies

I was told that if a tenant has a life changing event (change jobs, move, etc.) during the course of their lease, it is the landlord's job to begin looking for a new tenant.  The original tenant is still held to the original lease term until the landlord finds a suitable new tenant, but the landlord is obligated to begin looking and the original tenant may be let out of their lease when the new tenant is found.  Is this accurate?

@Hen Ley

In most cases, that is very much accurate. They are obligated to pay for the duration of the lease while you are obligated to actively market and search for a new tenant. Once a new tenant is secured, the previous tenant is freed from their obligation. There are a few potential caveats, like if the tenant is called for active duty in the military, where they may not be held to the same obligations, but for the most part it is true.

The tenant is contractually obligated to the terms of the lease. However, if the tenant decides to leave, the Landlord has an obligation to make a "good faith effort" to find a new tenant. This means you should make your best effort to market it, show it, and place a tenant but you don't have to lower the rent or incur some other financial hardship to find a replacement. The original tenant remains responsible until the new tenant takes over.

@Hen Ley  Iowa law states a landlord must attempt to mitigate their losses, so the answer is yes to your question. However, if it's the middle of winter here and a tenant breaks their lease and you have a months vacancy, they are legally obligated to pay for that months rent. And, despite what some people say about how the tenants will never pay you, I find it completely depends on the quality of your property and tenant. I have had tenants relocate for work and pay that extra months rent while I find a new tenant. And yes, small claims court is available, and depending on the quality of your tenant, most people do not want their credit destroyed by a monetary judgment against them. 

Originally posted by @Hen Ley :

I was told that if a tenant has a life changing event (change jobs, move, etc.) during the course of their lease, it is the landlord's job to begin looking for a new tenant.  The original tenant is still held to the original lease term until the landlord finds a suitable new tenant, but the landlord is obligated to begin looking and the original tenant may be let out of their lease when the new tenant is found.  Is this accurate?

 Every municipality is going to have differing laws. Where I am at (Cleveland, Ohio) The reason that they broke the lease doesn't matter and you can continue to charge the tenant rent for the rest of the lease yes. However you've got to try to find a new tenant and once you do you cannot charge double rent. At that point you can only charge the new tenant the rent.

Now that's the legality of it all but let's talk about something far more important the probability of actually collecting the money. In real life practice once a tenant breaks their lease and leaves your property early you're probably not getting a dime. Most tenants don't have a high net worth and suing them is far more trouble than it's worth. It's ok though because all things considered that's not that bad of a situation. Them not paying and you having to evict them is far more costly.