It’s never easy to find out your tenant wants to prematurely end their lease. As a landlord, you not only count on the income from your investment property, but it’s also in your best interest to keep your unit filled, and not just for monetary reasons. A vacant unit can increase your property insurance, and may be more at risk for fires and other accidents or liabilities.
When a tenant notifies you that they want to break their lease before their contract is up, what should your next steps be? The following actions will help protect your investment and ensure you make the best decisions moving forward.
Determine Their Motivation for Leaving
Once your tenant has notified you of their intentions, it’s important to determine why they want to break the lease early. The reason behind this is because in certain instances, you may be legally obligated to allow the tenant to break the contract. In other cases, while you may not have to let the tenant leave, it could be the best decision for everyone involved.
For example, if your tenant is in the military and gets deployed, you’re obligated to allow premature termination of the lease. If your tenant loses their job, ends a relationship, or has another reason for wanting to leave, you may consider letting them exit the contract on a case-by-case basis.
Review Their Obligations
If you’re not obligated to allow a tenant to vacate the property early—and you’ve reviewed their reasons for wanting to leave but are not convinced letting them break the lease is the best decision—this is a good time to review their responsibilities as a tenant with them.
Provided you have a legal lease in your state or district, the lease is a contract enforceable by law. You can remind your tenant that they’re required to honor the lease as a tenant just as you are obligated to honor the lease as a landlord. While it may not make a difference in regards to their plans to vacate the property, it’s a good idea to remind them of their responsibilities at this time.
Make a Plan
Making a plan can help ensure that you’ll still receive income and have enough time to figure out what’s going to happen with your property. If you must let your tenant leave—or they decide to leave anyway—you need to make a plan.
For military tenants and other renters that have a valid reason for wanting to break the lease, you can let them go, but you need to begin searching for a new tenant as soon as possible. In some cases, your tenant should still pay rent while you’re searching for a new prospect. In other cases, it’s not appropriate to require a resident to pay rent, even if they broke the lease without your permission.
Consider Consulting a Professional
When a tenant wants to break their lease early, you may wonder if you should consult a legal professional to determine your next steps. While you may not need to consult an attorney right away, you may consider consulting a professional property management company to determine if your tenant has a right to break the lease and if you should pursue legal action.
Having a professional give you their outside opinion on the matter can help you make the best decision for your unit, avoid unnecessary legal fees, and keep your investment property occupied!
Have Questions? Get in Touch With Us
FAS Management has provided professional property management solutions to Washington DC for more than 70 years. Our team can advise you on best practices as well as ensure your lease includes stipulations in regards to early termination before your tenant even reviews the contract. Get in touch with us today to ask a question or learn more about what we offer at (202) 337-5080!