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Property Management Blog

How to handle a lease break.

Mendell Gosnell - Friday, May 8, 2020
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Should You Let a Tenant Out of Their Lease?

In a perfect world, all tenants would stay for their full lease term, give proper notice as their lease is about to expire, and satisfactorily complete the agreement.

But the reality is that even the best tenants can want or need to be let out of a lease. Although it’s not ideal for you as the owner, it is important to take a common-sense approach to the tenant’s request because telling them, “too bad, you are obligated to the lease” generally solves nothing.

Find out why. It is critical to ascertain the underlying reason WHY the tenant wants out of the lease. Many scenarios can cause a resident to make this request, from an unexpected job transfer to buying a home, financial difficulties, a divorce, etc. Show them compassion on a personal level.

Check the lease. It is important to have a frank discussion with the tenant on the terms of their lease. This is a contractual agreement, and it is important for residents to understand what this means financially and legally. If they have a clear understanding of their obligations, this can assist both parties in working out a solution.

Avoid confrontation. It is easy for emotions to cloud the issues. The tenant feels they have justification for the termination and you feel they are legally bound to the contract, but a shouting match about who is right will solve nothing. Instead, set up a road map to resolve the problem.

Take a calm and reasonable approach. There are important steps we take as property managers with the tenant to resolve the situation.

  • Although the owner cannot prevent residents from moving, we discuss with the resident that they have an obligation to the lease until we can re-rent the unit. We do this verbally and in writing whenever possible.
  • We counsel the tenants on their obligation to continue rental payments until the property is re-leased. If the reason for terminating the agreement is due to financial difficulties, we endeavor to set up a payment resolution. It is also important to review the disposition of the security deposit. Moving out does not absolve them from the terms of the lease.
  • We set up an agreement with the tenant that they cooperate with marketing and showing of the property. If they are moving out early, we strive to set up a walkthrough and obtain possession in order to re-rent the property as quickly as possible.
  • We remind the tenant that the condition of the property while it is being shown or when they move out is a key factor that can affect both their financial obligations and possibly their credit and rental history.
  • We also make clear to the tenant that the property management company on behalf of the owner will rent the property and they are not to “sublease” the property, according to the terms of their agreement. If they do know of any party that is interested, we ask them to contact us as soon as possible so they can make an application to rent the unit.

There is no “one” answer to a request from a tenant to be let out of their lease agreement. Every situation is different. What is important is to have open communication and whenever possible have both sides working toward a peaceful and successful resolution.

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Salem Office   |   1365 Commercial St SE   |   Salem, OR 97302   |   503-588-0940
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