What To Do If Your Tenant Breaks Their Lease
There are many ways a tenant can “beak” a lease: they can stop paying rent, violate rental policies by bringing in pets where none are allowed, or engage in illegal activities. Often, however, a tenant will break a lease by moving out before the term of the lease has ended.
A tenant who must move because of a job loss, a family emergency, or a new opportunity is likely to give notice and try to work something out. In the worst-case scenario, a tenant just disappears without notice. Here’s what to do if your tenant breaks the lease.
Reread Your Early Termination Clause
A well-written lease will cover situations where a tenant vacates before the term is up. It should list how much notice you require and whether you allow subleasing. In this case, your tenant must continue to pay rent until you can re-let the property.
A reliable tenant who has always paid on time may approach you and ask for accommodation due to a job change, family situation, or financial emergency. Go over the early termination clause, and remind the tenant that rent is still due until you can find another occupant for the property. Decide whether you’ll allow the tenant to find a sublessor or if you’d prefer to market the property yourself.
Get legal advice on applicable housing laws. There may be limitations on whether you can retain a security deposit or if you must allow the property to remain vacant until the tenant misses the next rent payment.
If a tenant just skips out without notice, tracking them down and collecting rent may be difficult. Take pictures of the unit and any damages, and keep copies of receipts for repairs.
Send a detailed letter to the tenant reiterating the lease requirements and stating that rent is still due and you will retain the security deposit until you find a new tenant.
Keep copies of all correspondence between yourself and the tenant. Have bank statements ready to prove that they haven’t paid rent should you need to go to court to enforce the terms of the lease.
Work Diligently to Re-Let the Property
Property owners can’t sit idly by while rent and late fee deadlines pass with no payment. You’ll need to mitigate damages by securing a new tenant as quickly as possible. Excalibur Homes provides rental property management in Atlanta, including marketing properties and screening tenants. As experienced property managers, we know the applicable rules and can help property owners decide what to do if a tenant breaks a lease.