Tenant moved out before lease term

4 Replies

The current lease of the tenant expires the end of October but they moved out at the beginning of October. They did pay October rent in full. We are looking for new tenant now. If I find a tenant before the end of October, do I need to refund the previous tenant's partial rent for Oct? They did give me 30 day advance move out notice.

A property management agent told me the tenant abandoned the house when they moved out. Is that true? What is the condition to say tenant abandoned the house.

I am new as landlord. I appreciate any input from all your expert!

@Ping W.  A few questions. Did the tenant give the property manager the keys when they moved out? Did the PM "check the tenant out of the unit"? If the tenant still has the keys they still have possession and I would not consider it abandoned because they have paid rent. 

Abandonment is usually covered by local law and court cases but I would consider it abandoned if they haven't paid rent and have moved out. Abandonment can be tricky because most of the time they leave something behind so it's a bit hard to prove they weren't planning on returning and paying rent. 

If they gave your agent the keys and the agent did any kind of check out, then the term I would use would be "surrender possession." If they surrendered possession then you have the right to rerent. To avoid any issues with returning rent if you rerent before the end of the month they should have signed a document stating they were leaving early and that they are forfeiting the remainder of the rent for the month.  The sticky part is the utilities. If the tenant is still responsible for paying utilities until the end of the month it is a bit of a hard sell that they have surrendered possession. If you have a termination agreement the way to deal with that is to take over the utilities when they give you the keys. 

You have to weigh the cost of utilities vs the potential for rent for the rest of the month.

@Ping W.  

Have you reviewed the residential landlord/tenant act in the state in which the property is located? It might be helpful in determining how to proceed.

If the property is in South Carolina I found this link.

Here in Oklahoma, if a tenant moves out prior to lease expiration, we consider the property "abandoned". We will try to get something in writing from the tenant stating that they have vacated the property and it is not their intention to return. We will also document by taking photos of the vacant house, etc. The tenant would still be responsible for paying rent until the end of the lease term, or until a new lease begins, whichever occurs first.

Each state is different when it comes to the law so you should review the applicable landlord/tenant act and consult with an attorney if you are still unclear on how to proceed.

To clarify, we have given the tenants 2 set of keys and they returned 1 set to us and keeping the other set so that they could maintain the house to the end of leaser term. Also they agreed to pay the utilities until the end of leaser term or until we find another tenant.

@Ping W.  

Do you have a break lease or buy out clause in your lease? Otherwise you are not allowed to "double dip". You can charge any damage. Many states won't allow Landlords time to be charge, so that means loss of rent days and management fees to turn. For only 30 days you are going to have trouble charging rent days.

The way "around" that rule per say is to have a specific break lease or buy out clause in your lease. This has saved me tons or headache! Below is an article I wrote about it. Had you had this in your lease you could have kept the 30 days rent.


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