Landlord trying to terminate lease early

40 Replies

Hi,

I am a resident of Texas. I have been a good tenant (openly acknowledged by my land lord) and on occasion, I have even helped her out by forwarding her critical mails etc. I can only guess that she is having trouble paying her mortgage, given how many times the bank sent a occupancy verification letter to our house, which I forwarded to her.

Now my landlord is trying to terminate our lease early (move out by june 1st , 2014 ) without giving me a reason as to why, which is 1 month before our current lease term expires (june 30th, 2014). It is just not feasible for my family to move out by that date. So far, she has been ignoring my calls/emails, which is increasing my concern. Last thing I want to happen is someone showing up on my doorstep on May 31st and asking me to vacate.

In case someone tries to force me out, what is the best way for me to get help without incurring expensive attorney fees ?

Thanks!

Ask her to pay for the moving company. Or whatever can make you move easier. Being that you are great tentant, it shouldn't be hard to find a new place...

Thanks Rafael. She's is not responsive and out of state. Once she responds, I think I can negotiate a few things. But right now, she isn't responding at all.

Verification of occupancy makes it seem like she has an OO loan on property but is using it as a rental. Especially if those letters are coming to your residence. I can only guess the bank's interest is piqued and she's having a freak out.

Perhaps she wants you out early to move in herself? Whatever it is, it has the appearance of something sketchy. You may start looking elsewhere for housing as a backup plan.

Google "Texas Property Code Chapter 92, 91, and 24" for info on residential leases, termination periods, and forcible entry/detainer. It'll give you a primer without the $ an attorney will charge.

I'm not a lawyer not an expert on landlord-tenant laws, so factor that into your decisions.

Best wishes -

Mike

Attempt communication with her every way you can. Telephone, text, email, postal mail. Keep records of your communications. Let her know you plan to stay until June 30, 2014 in accordance with the terms of your lease. If you are open to negotiation, such as a monetary incentive to move earlier, let her know she will need to reach out to you and talk with you about it.

Look up landlord-tenant law for your jurisdiction. Contact some tenant rights organizations if necessary. Remain calm and cordial. Do what you feel you need to do for the best interest for you and your family. Good luck.

A landlord cannot just kick you out for no reason. From what you wrote it sounds like they bought the place with an owner occupied loan (i.e., they promised they would live there), rented it out, and got caught by the lender. The lender may well "call the loan" and may foreclose. The landlord may be able to prevent that by moving in. Since they're wanting to kick you out even though you have a lease, you may be able to push back and demand compensation in exchange for leaving. Don't let your landlord bully you into leaving. Nobody can legally just show up on your doorstep and demand you get out. Doesn't mean they won't try an illegal, self-help eviction, but you do have rights.

Sure sounds like a OO that got caught. If so she probably can't evict, can't have that paper trail on record. Check in with legal aid. Tell her that you'll move when your lease is up.

@ Mike , thanks . Code chapter 91 was helpful!!

@Marcia thanks for the advice.

@Jon H, Jon A : Thanks for your comments! : I heard back from Landlady.. Although she admitted that lease expires end of June, she still insists on us vacating by june 1st.. Says she already made plans for the house beyond that date (without giving any details , of course). I will see what she's willing to compensate.. I have a vacation planned with non refundable tickets at the end of the month.. I am concerned that if we don't reach an agreement, someone might show up and try to evict us when we are away on our vacation. Is that possible ? Any suggestions as to what I can do to prevent this ? Certainly looks like a "OO" got caught case. I just saw another postcard from the BoA today addressed to her and asking her to confirm occupancy.. Thanks again, for all the help!!

@Raghu Kota ,

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Raymond

Call Bank of America. Say you have seen the postcard and are concerned, because you have been renting the place for nearly a year. Act dumb and ask them to change the "resident" to you.

She cannot make you leave. Inform her that you have a binding lease and will hold her to it. I wouldn't be all that gentle about it. Tell her that moving is extremely inconvenient, and because you will have to rush it will cost you more, and you will leave by June 1 in exchange for 2 months rent.

Or tell her to stuff it, you're not leaving until the 30th, and if she tries any self-help eviction, you'll sue her.

There are a lot of bad landlords out there. You have one.

Even in Texas, an extremely landlord friendly state, yours has no legal standing. She cannot terminate your lease early legally - period!! Even if she tried to take you to eviction court, she'd certainly be scolded by the judge. Trust me, she knows this, and is trying to use scare tactics to get you to move.

Stick to your guns, and as @Richard C. says, I would not be very nice about this at all. If she wants you gone, she needs to pay. In the meantime, since she can't legally evict at this time, go on your vacation and don't worry. You are in a great negotiation position, however, since she seems pretty desperate. Couldn't hurt to try to get your next move paid for, since it seems inevitable you will have to move as of June 30.

Sharon Tzib, Real Estate Agent in TX (#653488)

Wow. this was stupid of her, and is causing a lot a hassle for you. While I am not suggesting you try any sort of "shakedown", I do think it's reasonable for you to ask for some compensation for accommodating her and getting her butt out of the fire. Can you research finding a place to move that will fit with your vacations dates? I think moving expenses and a months rent (and full refund of your deposit of course) would be a reasonable solution. But think of what feels acceptable to you and propose it. Get anything you agree to in writing. If you have that you should be in good shape -- because you'll also have written proof of her infraction against the bank, so she won't want you showing that to anyone in a later dispute ;)

Newbie investors are often posting questions here on "do I REALLY have to live in my property for the prescribed time after getting an owner-occupied loan?" We can now direct them to this post as a cautionary tale...

If it were me - I would start with writing that moving would be very financially inconvenient for me right now. But also that I was willing to work with you (the landlord) so what can we work out? Will you pay to move me twice (first into a furnished Korman Suite for a month or two and later into my next rental), cover all my costs, and pay for any storage?

If not - OK; then what Are you willing to do to help me work with you?

If the answer is: Nothing - then there is the answer for what I would be willing to do in order to work with them.

I like a two-way-street approach. If they insist on a one-way - then I'd feel obligated to play by their rules and do nothing to help them.

If you are going away on vacation - stop in and chat with your local police chief. Explain that you rent the house, and that your lease is through the next two months, and then mention that you've had people you didn't know walking around on the property, maybe looking in the windows, and in general acting suspiciously. You didn't want to bother the police dept. with it before - you just sent them packing on your own - but now you've re-thinking it because the house is going to be empty while your away on vacation. So could the police possibly keep an extra-eye on the place for you while you're gone? You're afriad now that maybe people have been checking the house out with the idea of stealing all your possessions or something. You've heard horror stories where people have had their houses emptied out, etc.

stephen
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Originally posted by @Raghu Kota :

Hi,
I am a resident of Texas. I have been a good tenant (openly acknowledged by my land lord) and on occasion, I have even helped her out by forwarding her critical mails etc. I can only guess that she is having trouble paying her mortgage, given how many times the bank sent a occupancy verification letter to our house, which I forwarded to her.

Now my landlord is trying to terminate our lease early (move out by june 1st , 2014 ) without giving me a reason as to why, which is 1 month before our current lease term expires (june 30th, 2014). It is just not feasible for my family to move out by that date. So far, she has been ignoring my calls/emails, which is increasing my concern. Last thing I want to happen is someone showing up on my doorstep on May 31st and asking me to vacate.
In case someone tries to force me out, what is the best way for me to get help without incurring expensive attorney fees ?
Thanks!

@Jean Bolger @Sharon Tzib : Thanks for the suggestions! I have left her emails and messages to call me back and discuss this further.. Still waiting to see where this leads..

@Raghu Kota Investors look for distressed situations to purchase property. Your landlord obviously has one. I have no idea if you like the house enough and/or are in a position to buy it, nor do I know the seller's predicament, but perhaps you can get the property at a good price and she can keep the bank at bay. Win-win!

Mike

@Mike M. : Certainly thought about that. But I have bought a house in a different city (uhnder construction) and at this time cannot 2 houses, even if I could rent out one of them. But thanks for the pointer.

@Stephen S. Thanks ! like your suggestions around alerting the cops.

This is getting very interesting. She says she sold the house. Offered me $500 and my deposit to leave by June 1st.. I see nothing anywhere (looked in the county records and a few other places ) that this house got sold. I asked who the new owners were and no response so far... Can't put much sense into this silly response from her. But she atleast mentioned the compensation discussion, which is a start to our negotiations!

@Raghu Kota

My guess would be that she would "like" to sell the property. She has no right to terminate your lease even if the property has been sold and would not be successful in an eviction. If it was indeed sold, more than likely the new buyer would have wanted a walk through, survey stakes might have been placed on the property to define the boundary of the property. Depending on what county it is in, it might not show up in the deed records yet as there could be a lag in posting the data. IF SHE DID INDEED SELL THE PROPERTY, She is NOT the person to be paying May and June rent or the person who can give you notice to vacate as she is no longer the owner of the property ! It depends how far you want to take this but what I see are some of your options :

-If you are willing to move by May 31st , negotiate the best $$ amount you can and I might even have a third party hold the funds as at the very least she is stretching the truth at this point and I would be reluctant to trust her

-If you want to stay at least until June 30, send her a certified letter requesting the "new" owner's information(According to her) so you can make the June rent payable to them and state that you intend to honor your lease. Then plan on enjoying your vacation as she could not try to evict you without your knowledge. She has to send you a 3-day Notice to Vacate and then file with the JP Court in your county and then you will be served by the Constable so there is no way you would not know about it.

All this is being said assuming you have a standard lease with no special clauses that you agreed to in writing.

FYI- If she or you do not give 30-day notice to terminate the lease on June 30, the lease will continue month to month unless either party give proper notice

@Greg Hall : Thanks! A few weeks ago, she had sent visit us as an "annual inspector" to see if the house needed any big maintenance items.. That gentleman was very neatly dressed and just simply walked around the home and backyard. I now suspect he was a realtor. Aligns with your thought that she is trying to sell the property now. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

I hate to bring this up, but before you go on vacation, you might box up some of your personal stuff (electronics, jewelry, cash, etc.) & stash it somewhere else. If she gets access to the property (legally or not), or if a realtor starts showing the property, stuff tends to "disappear." Just a CYA move - plus it's one less thing to worry about while you're gone.

"sold" to most people means getting it under contract to sell. But to the legal status powers "sold" means a settlement process has been concluded.

And for all we know; your landlord may mean "sold" as she has someone interested in buying the house. Presumably; empty. <g>

Is your deposit in jeopardy now? That is: are there damages to be deducted from the security deposit now? I ask because if not; she is offering you nothing but the $500.

And at this slow rate of interaction she seems to be shooting herself in the foot here. The way it's going just getting an answer from her is likely to have you out to the natural end of your lease anyway. <g>

stephen
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spoit Originally posted by @Raghu Kota :
This is getting very interesting. She says she sold the house. Offered me $500 and my deposit to leave by June 1st.. I see nothing anywhere (looked in the county records and a few other places ) that this house got sold. I asked who the new owners were and no response so far... Can't put much sense into this silly response from her. But she atleast mentioned the compensation discussion, which is a start to our negotiations!

And it should go without saying, but it is really important:

Make sure you have a way to prove you paid her for the rent from here now. Receipt, or pay with a check.

@Stephen S. : Thanks. While there are no damages to be deducted, I am concerned regarding my deposit, since the house wasn't in great shape when it was handed over. if anything, I helped improve the lawn and a few other things. So yeah, she's just offering $500.. I responded to her asking for :
2 months rent, compensation for vacation plans and half of my deposit in advance. I did mention that every delay is just going to diminish my chances of vacating by June 1st. I am awaiting her response.
Originally posted by @Stephen S.:
"sold" to most people means getting it under contract to sell. But to the legal status powers "sold" means a settlement process has been concluded.

And for all we know; your landlord may mean "sold" as she has someone interested in buying the house. Presumably; empty. <g>

Is your deposit in jeopardy now? That is: are there damages to be deducted from the security deposit now? I ask because if not; she is offering you nothing but the $500.

And at this slow rate of interaction she seems to be shooting herself in the foot here. The way it's going just getting an answer from her is likely to have you out to the natural end of your lease anyway. <g>

stephen
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