Landlord Q&A: Unusual, But Important Topics

By E-Renter Tenant Screening
Posted on August 18, 2011 under Landlord and Tenant FAQs | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

tenant screeningQ: Can a landlord prevent a tenant from breaking a lease with 60 days’ notice, due to trauma from a violent crime that occurred in the rental unit?

A: In some cases, and in some jurisdictions, the law would allow a lease to be broken without penalty. Usually, a tenant who signs a one-year lease cannot terminate it mid-term, even with a 60-day notice. In general, a landlord is not liable for unforeseen criminal acts of a third party against his or her tenants. If the tenant had reported issues regarding safety, such as inoperable door or window locks, or insufficient lighting, the tenant may have recourse, as the landlord could be considered in breach of the lease for failing to protect the tenants.

In a case like this, landlords could find themselves between a rock and a hard place, wanting to avoid any admission of liability by allowing a tenant out of a lease, while understanding why they would want to move.

Q: If I see that a tenant is demonstrating some hoarding tendencies, should I intervene?

A: Landlords have the right to expect a tenant will keep the rental property in good, clean and safe condition. Hoarding can be a safety hazard, particularly if flammable materials are kept in large quantities or emergency crews would have a difficult time navigating through the unit. Tenants who keep debris, garbage, empty boxes and cans, and stacks of newspapers in a rental unit are endangering themselves and other tenants.

Don’t ignore this situation. Keep the lines of communication open and respectfully and gently talk to the tenant about the situation. You may need to try contacting a family member (perhaps from the emergency contact listed on the lease application).

Q: My tenant damaged a wall and hardwood floor by carelessly leaving a window open during a rainstorm. I took the repair money out of their security deposit, and they replenished it. Now I want to terminate the lease to prevent this from happening again. Do I have that right?

A: Carelessness is not gross negligence. If the tenant is on a month-to-month lease, then you may terminate with notice, with no reason given. But if it’s a longer lease, this situation probably will not qualify as an allowable reason.

Legal disclaimer:
The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only, and should not be relied upon as a substitute for obtaining legal advice applicable to your situation.

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