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What Should I Do If My Tenant Breaks Their Lease?

Frustrated rental property tenants sitting on couch with cardboard boxes
Did you know countless tenants who rent single-family homes select long-term leases? With that said, life can be quite unexpected, and tenants may have to leave earlier than expected. It’s always ideal to have a plan in place, just in case.

General reasons for breaking a lease cover and include job relocations, home buying, changing familial status, or military duty. It’s important to handle the situation skillfully and follow legal protocols.

Know and Follow the Law

When you and your tenant sign a lease, it’s integral to bear in mind that it’s a legally binding agreement. Moreover, remember that you both have certain rights and responsibilities governed by state landlord-tenant and other federal laws. These laws are in place to guarantee that both you and your tenant are treated fairly. As an illustration, in countless states, landlords are responsible for guaranteeing that the rental property is in good condition and must give notice to the tenant just before entering the property.

Failing to respect landlord-entry regulations or respecting your tenant’s privacy can be legal grounds for lease termination in lots of states. Other reasons include military service, domestic violence, or uninhabitable property.

Lease Termination Clause

Including an early lease termination clause in your lease documents is a sound practice for any landlord, even while it is not obligatory. Such a clause can help clarify the process a tenant may follow to break their lease agreement. In the majority of cases, this includes extending a certain amount of advance notice, many times 30 days, and most likely paying an early termination fee. By having this clause in place, both the tenant and the landlord can avoid any confusion or errors if the tenant needs to terminate the lease early.

A clause in your lease documents presents your tenant a way out if needed and determines that you do not face any financial hardship because of the broken lease.

After a Tenant Breaks a Lease

As a landlord, it’s noteworthy to maintain cordial and respectful relationships with tenants, even if they happen to break the lease agreement. While it can be disheartening when a tenant leaves before fulfilling their lease term, handling the situation very professionally and graciously is so important. In such cases, it’s expedient to document the problem and initiate a dialogue with the tenant to resolve the matter and collect any outstanding dues.

It’s a fine idea to ask your tenant if you can inspect the property before they move. This will help you identify any repairs that the tenant may be liable for and what you need to do to get the property ready for a new tenant. As with any tenant, you should calculate any unpaid rent and the cost of repairs and deduct them from their security deposit. It is essential to keep in-depth documentation of everything.

Send your tenant a written reminder expounding on their legal obligations under the terms of your lease agreement and what will happen if they don’t perform them. It’s proper to send this notice by certified mail to bring on a paper trail of your actions.

If you struggle in a situation where your tenant is not paying the rent, you might have to go through a legal process to collect the owed rent and associated fees. This envelopes filing a civil lawsuit with your local court. You must properly show to the court that you have acted in a lawful and fair manner throughout the process, including all the efforts you took to re-rent the property.

Hire a Professional Property Manager

One best solution to be certain that your rental business is done in a professional and legally compliant manner is by engaging the services of a reliable property management company. Such a company can help you navigate the complexities of property management and safeguard that your rental property is managed correctly and transparently.

At Real Property Management VA Peninsula, we work on your behalf in Toano and nearby to engender the most suitable tenant relations and resolve startling and unexpected changes. Contact us online or call us at 757-251-9188 to hear more in connection with this and our other quality services.


Originally Published on April 1, 2022

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