Tenant Termination Prior to Commencement Date

9 Replies | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Hi all,

Can I keep a security deposit if tenant signed a contract but the commencement date is not until 3 months later?

What is the legal effective date to hold tenant liable for rent - is it based on lease date or commencement date?

Would it be reasonable/lawful to collect security deposit in terms of putting unit back on the market and the associated costs for that?

I looked up the Landlord/Tenant laws for Pennsylvania and Montgomery County but couldn't find specifics that addressed my situation.

Appreciate any guidance to other references I should look at.


Hey Dustin! Not sure, but I'd suggest checking with a property manager in the area of your purchase, they will likely have the most actionable information. If you're looking for ideas of who to contact, I'd try some of the major franchises in the area. You could look for a Keyrenter, RPM, or PMI franchise, they are all typically reputable companies.

You will need to rerent the unit and mitigate your tenants damages - so since the commencement date is so far off IMO you need to return all funds UNLESS you have specific legal wording re "deposit to hold" 

call your local housing authority or contact your local LL /rental owners association to help you find the pertinent laws

Adding this link. See section 3 where it talks about mitigating tenants risk

  1. 3. Expected Damages.

    First of all you must be aware that as the tenant who entered the contract, the lease agreement, you are required to perform, that is pay the rent for the lease term. That means that the landlord may sue you for the remaining term of the contract. However, a landlord in residential leases does have a duty to mitigate damages, that is he or she must look for a new tenant and decrease the amount of damages that may result from the original tenants' lease.


What did future tenant do that put him/her in breach of your lease agreement?

The answer depends on the wording of your contract and the extent of their material breach. 

Originally posted by @Kevin M. :

What did future tenant do that put him/her in breach of your lease agreement?

The answer depends on the wording of your contract and the extent of their material breach. 

They said they needed a larger unit and wanted to cancel the lease since I do not have any larger units available.

If it weren't for them, the unit could have been rented out to someone else who would have probably moved in before their commencement date so I'm concerned with loss of rent for those months. 

Originally posted by @Eric Greenberg :

Hi Dustin, 

Is your unit vacant right now do to them not moving in or do you still have time to find someone to fill it? 


The unit is vacant right now and would not be occupied until their lease starts in 3 months. But because they want to terminate, the unit is indeterminate on vacancy until a new tenant is found to move in before that date.

So i have time to find a new tenant but my concern is loss of rent for the time looking for a replacement tenant.

Is it legal for me to keep security deposit for associated time in marketing the unit again and what are the regulations in effect for leases like these that are signed months in advance?

So they signed a lease that you agreed to that starts roughly 3 months after your last tenants left? If they did not terminate the lease were they paying those 3 months and just not moving in right away or were you never going to get rent for those months? 

What does it say in your lease?