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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 a vast number of tenants who rent single-family homes decide on long-term leases? Having said that, life can be uncertain, and tenants may have to leave earlier than expected. It’s always appropriate to have a plan in place, just in case.

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

Know and Follow the Law

When you and your tenant sign a lease, it’s primal to take into account that it’s a legally binding agreement. Hence, you both have certain rights and responsibilities governed by state landlord-tenant and other federal laws. These laws are in place to warrant that both you and your tenant are treated fairly. For instance, in a vast number of states, landlords are responsible for warranting that the rental property is in good condition and must give notice to the tenant prior to entering the property.

Failing to fulfill landlord-entry regulations or respecting your tenant’s privacy can be legal grounds for lease termination in many, different 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 the best practice for any landlord, though it is not required. Such a clause can help clarify the process a tenant may follow to break their lease agreement. In many cases, this includes bestowing a certain amount of advance notice, regularly 30 days, and potentially paying an early termination fee. By having this clause in place, both the tenant and the landlord can avoid any confusion or mistakes if the tenant needs to terminate the lease early.

A clause in your lease documents offers your tenant a way out if needed and makes sure that you do not meet financial hardship because of the broken lease.

After a Tenant Breaks a Lease

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

It’s a wonderful idea to ask your tenant if you can inspect the property before they transfer. This will help you identify any repairs that the tenant may be accountable 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 vital to keep comprehensive documentation of everything.

Send your tenant a written reminder clarifying their legal obligations under the terms of your lease agreement and what will happen if they don’t execute them. It’s beneficial to send this notice by certified mail to set off a paper trail of your actions.

If you confront 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 composes filing a civil lawsuit with your local court. You must exhibit to the court that you have acted in a lawful and fair manner throughout the process, including all the tactical actions you took to re-rent the property.

Hire a Professional Property Manager

One best means to establish that your rental business is brought about in a professional and legally compliant manner is by hiring the services of a reliable property management company. Such a company can help you navigate the complexities of property management and secure that your rental property is managed excellently and transparently.

At Real Property Management Greater Madison Metro, we work on your behalf in Sun Prairie and nearby to develop ideal tenant relations and correct shocking and unexpected changes. Contact us online or call us at 608-310-1290 to find out more related to this and our other quality services.


Originally Published on April 1, 2022

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