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My tenant gonna break lease.. what to do

My tenant gonna break lease.. what to do


Old 04-24-07, 10:10 AM
gorth97's Avatar
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: San Diego
Posts: 142
My tenant gonna break lease.. what to do

Well my tenant just called and said he's breaking the 1yr least two two months earlier then signed cause he's buying a house and closing escrow soon.

I dont remember if the lease agreement mentioned a specific fee for breaking a lease but he said he wants to work this out so that I can find another tenant to take over the lease without losing any days.. well of course, he wants to make this as smooth as possible..

Whats the standard practice here? I remember breaking a lease in an apartment a long time ago and I was charged a full month's rent... but I don't wana be a **** either, its only 2 months ... though I don't wana be a pushover either lol.. And if no specific amounts were mentioned on the lease, do I have any right to charge at all?

I guess I'll check the leasing agreement tonight when I get home..

Last edited by DIYaddict; 04-24-07 at 11:35 AM. Reason: Edited inappropriate word ****
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Old 04-24-07, 10:31 AM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 43
Honestly, I'd consider yourself lucky that the tenant is at least working with you here. I think the most you can do is keep the security deposit, if you got one. Otherwise, why not settle it amicably and work on finding another tenant?

Good luck.
Old 04-24-07, 11:20 AM
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: USA
Posts: 15,834
If your contract does not specifically clarify what occurs when a lease is broken, then you need to modify the lease for future tenants. It is important to know your state's landlord/tenant laws.

Lease guidelines vary by state. Leases also vary among lessors. Contracts should contain an 'early release' clause that spell out both the tenant's and the lessor's obligations if either one of you break the lease. Most contracts contain language where tenant owes one or two months of extra rent or will be responsible for payments until a new tenant is found, whichever happens first. The tenant's security deposit may also be forfeited, if allowed by the state. In most states, landlords aren't required to negotiate terms not covered in the original lease or subsequent written amendments. Check your state's landlord/tenant laws.

The tenant has given you notice, which gives you the opportunity to search for another tenant. Notice given serves as an indication that the tenant is respectful and willing to negotiate, if possible.
Old 04-26-07, 08:22 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 75
Red face breaking the lease

I generally agree with twelvepole's answer but would add, there technically is no such thing as "breaking the lease". (If you don't believe me on this, just try to break an auto lease). A lease is a contract and is enforced in an action in court under the landlord tenant laws of your state.

Generally speaking you are entitled to damages which equal the amount of unpaid rent under the lease. Under certain cases, you may be able to apply the lease deposit against the unpaid rent. Again, check the LLT laws of your state.

Finally, most state laws require a landlord to "mitigate his damages" meaning, find another tenant for that unit. Some state laws say if you have multiple units empty, the next tenant you get for any unit mitigates your damages. Other states say you can choose which empty unit to lease meaning that if you don't fill that specific unit, you can still go after the breacher.

Get a real estate lawyer who knows landlord tenant law in your state. There are very specifice procedures to re-take your property, even if vacant, and if you don't do it right, you run the risk of not getting a full judgment against the breacher.

Good Luck.
Old 04-27-07, 05:34 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: WI/MN
Posts: 18,714
While you are required to make a reasonable effort to find a new tenant, your lease should specify that the tenant is responsible for paying rent until the end of the lease term or until a new tenant is found.
Old 04-27-07, 09:22 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 2,268
The advice above is legally correct. - but - C'mon... two months rent isn't worth the legal hassle involved.... Work with your tenant... find a new one... and move on.... It's part of being a landlord....
Old 05-08-07, 12:00 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: USA
Posts: 994
As a landlord, how is it that you "can't remember" a key element of the lease and don't know what the standard practice is for such a situation? I don't mean to sound like I'm dumping on you; just curious.

My lawyer has told me that 90% of residential leases are unenforceable as written if you look at them closely enough. Technically, as noted by another poster, you can't "break" a lease, but it can be ruled unenforceable and thus never in effect to be broken.

I was in your tenant's situation not long ago, and "broke" my 1-year lease after just 4 months. Turned out not only was the lease unenforceably vague regarding early termination, but the landlord had failed to get a state-required lead paint inspection and the property shouldn't have been rented at all.

I guess you should be glad the tenant wants to work with you, because odds are he could probably just walk away.
Old 05-08-07, 12:09 PM
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Join Date: May 2006
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The first thing you need to do if you plan on being a LL is to get a copy of your states LL/tenant laws and learn them. As you have seen, depending on the state, there are different laws to follow.

if you post your state, it is very easy to post a link to your states LL/tenant laws.

as a general rule, a LL is entitled to be paid for the entire amount of the lease. That means, if the tenant moves out early, the tenant is still liable for the rent for the entire period of lease.

A LL often has a duty to mitigate their damages. That means they must attempt to re-rent the housing in replacement of the tenant that left. Some states requirements are so weak concerning this point that a LL does not have to really do anything to mitigate damages. In those cases, the tenant ends up being liable for the entire lease worth.

advertising expenses and any other expenses needed to rent the apartment prior to the temination of the lease are often the liability of the tenant.

post a state and the answers can be a lot more specific.

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