Incentivizing Tenants to Break a Lease

Posted by Teresa on October 22, 2010 under Eviction, Landlord and Tenant FAQs | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

tenant screening, tenant background checkHave you ever needed to break a lease with a tenant? We’ve heard from a few landlords who did just that, for different reasons:

Nancy rented out her home in Virginia when her husband was transferred to San Jose, CA. Six months later, he was laid off from his job and they returned to their hometown. Financial difficulties kept them from buying another house. Nancy and her husband wanted to move back into their home, but their tenant still had several months left on the one-year lease they signed when they moved.

Jerry rented an apartment above his business to the son of a friend. At first, everything worked out well—but soon, the tenant started paying rent a few days late, didn’t keep the apartment clean, and made way too much noise during Jerry’s business hours. He didn’t want to evict his friend’s son, but realized he made a mistake signing a one-year lease with him.

Steve’s situation was the opposite—he had a tenant who purchased a home and wanted to break the lease three months early. Steve’s first inclination was to say “no” and require the tenant to pay all three months’ rent. But the tenant had been great—never late with rent, quiet and no trouble—and he didn’t want to punish her. He was just concerned about renting the unit again.

Nancy and Jerry handled their problem with the same solution—they incentivized their tenants to voluntarily break the lease. Nancy calculated how much she and her husband were willing to offer before picking up the phone and calling the tenant. She explained the situation, offered to help the tenant find another place to live, and then asked if he would be willing to move out early. He accepted her offer of assistance and cash, and all was well.

Jerry also offered his friend’s son an incentive to move out. He had a talk with him, explained that it wasn’t working out but he didn’t want to evict him, and gave him the rest of the month (about 20 days) in free rent if the tenant agreed to move out. (And Jerry never rented to a friend or a friend’s kid again.)

Steve wanted to end his relationship with his tenant on a good note. He calculated the three months’ rent, inspected the unit and found that it was in good shape, and offered to let the tenant out of the lease in exchange for keeping the security deposit and one month’s rent. She quickly agreed, and recommended the apartment to a co-worker, who signed a lease with Steve soon after.

It is possible to break a lease with a tenant, whether it’s you or the tenant who wants it broken. Usually a little incentive does the trick—but it doesn’t hurt to be reasonable, polite and open-minded! The next time one of your tenants wants to break a lease, think about solutions rather than problems. You might be surprised to see that it can work out for both parties.

5 Things to Know About Evicting Tenants

Posted by Teresa on October 20, 2010 under Eviction, Landlord Tips | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

tenantscreeningblog, tenant screeningEviction is typically the last step a landlord wants to take with a tenant. But it’s a reality in the real estate investment business. Most experienced landlords say the biggest mistake they make around eviction is waiting too long to start the proceedings.

So if you’re a landlord who is heading down the road toward evicting a tenant, here are 5 things you should know:

  1. Eviction comes after you legally terminate the tenancy. The requirements for giving a tenant notice that the tenancy has been terminated varies by state; every landlord should know the regulations in his or her state. Usually, a written notice is required, for example, a notice that the tenant pay the rent due by the 5th or the eviction lawsuit will proceed. (This is a “pay or quit” notice.)
  2. Every state has its own requirements for how eviction papers are written and served, too. Look up your state law on eviction; read it thoroughly. Ask an attorney to explain it if any statute or requirement is unclear.
  3. Many rental property owners advise new landlords to hire a landlord/tenant attorney to handle your first eviction to make sure that everything is done correctly. You don’t want your case thrown out of court because you’ve missed a legal notice or mixed up the number of days you are required to give the tenant to correct the problem.
  4. If your tenant fights the eviction, your case could take many weeks or months to go through the courts. Every notice, every complaint, and your history as a landlord could be scrutinized. It’s vitally important that you keep excellent records, treat every tenant equally and abide by your state and local laws throughout the entire eviction process.
  5. Depending on your state, you may have responsibilities after an evicted tenant moves out. In some states, the property owner is required to store a tenant’s left-behind property and notify them for a minimum time period before disposing of it.

It’s not easy to evict a tenant—for a reason. Forcing a person or family out of their home is not taken lightly. Be well-prepared if you must evict—and to reduce the probability of needing to evict, be sure to order a thorough tenant screening before you sign a lease with a potential tenant.

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