What Options Do I Have If My Tenant is Breaking a Lease Agreement?

What Options Do I Have If My Tenant is Breaking a Lease Agreement?

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Lease agreements are invaluable legal contracts that allow both the tenant and the property owner to abide by the rules of the tenancy. It’s a form of assurance that the tenant will pay rent until the expiry of the lease and that the landlord won’t raise the rent.

But sometimes tenants don’t hold part of their bargain. A new job, marital issues, new house, and other reasons can force tenants to break lease agreements. Whenever this happens, it is important to know how you can handle the situation to avoid losses.

As a property owner, it is crucial to know what it means when renters breach tenancy agreements. Unless landlords violate the terms of the contract, a tenant is obligated to the terms of an early termination clause.

Still, under some circumstances, there are valid reasons that allow renters to break a lease. In effect, you can either be legally bound to release tenants without any penalties or be in a legal position to seek compensation. Here are some actionable tasks you can do to prevent or handle a broken lease agreement.

Consider A Lease Termination Clause As A Landlord

Including a lease termination clause in the tenancy agreement is the surest way of mitigating financial costs associated with tenants breaking leases. Such a provision would explain and provide a guideline regarding what should be done when renters terminate contracts early. The clause allows renters to give an early notice; this is typically 30-60 days before the intended day of moving out.

Lease termination for landlords is necessary as it gives you a chance to find new tenants while the departing tenant pays for rent. However, most states, including Utah, require landlords to actively search for new occupants to avoid overburdening the current lessee.

The early termination clause allows you to legally bind the tenant to the terms of breaking a lease. You’ll clearly outline the consequences of breaking the lease before the expiry of the term.

Within this clause, you can introduce a buy-out clause that allows the tenant or you to break the lease. In this case, the individual breaking the lease pays a penalty fee, which is equivalent to no more than two month’s rent – as required by the law. If you go with this option, sometimes it ends up being a costly choice if you can’t find a new tenant quickly.

Typically, you have three options as a landlord when a tenant breaks the lease:

  • Subletting – this means allowing the current lessee to sublet the property to another person. When this happens, ensure that the new tenant qualifies as a good tenant. Also, inform the previous renter that the security deposit won’t be available until the end of the original lease.
  • Re-Renting – the law requires you to advertise your property as vacant as soon as you receive a notice from the tenant. You can shift marketing costs to the tenant provided that you have clearly indicated that provision in the early termination clause.
  • The third option is letting the tenant pay for rent balance for the remaining months. This can work if there are a few months (less than 3 months) to the expiry of the lease. Note that the law requires you to mitigate damages when renters break lease agreements, so deliberately leaving the property idle is downright illegal.

 

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Demand for an Early Notice

Regardless of the reason that motivates your tenant to move out before the end of the lease term, you can include in the lease agreement the need to provide an early notice. You can give anywhere between 30 to 60 days depending on what works for you.

Can Tenants Break The Lease?

There are a few situations where the tenant can legally break a lease agreement. In Utah, you cannot subject your tenant to the buy-out or early termination clause if:

  • He/she is an active military duty
  • He/she is a victim of domestic violence
  • Your rental unit is considered inhabitable. Ensure that you meet Salt Lake City area health and safety codes.
  • You harass or violate your tenant’s privacy. You are required to give a 24-hour notice before entering the property. Also, you cannot change locks, tamper with utilities, remove doors/windows, or do anything that violates the tenant’s rights.

When Breaking a Lease is Unjustifiable

You’re legally allowed to hold the tenant to the terms of the lease in case they provide unjustifiable reasons for breaking the contract. Breaking lease is inexcusable if tenants are:

  • Moving to a new house
  • Relocating to a new job/school
  • Moving in with a spouse
  • Moving to be close to family

Terminating a lease agreement can come with unforeseen nightmares. As a property owner, cushion yourself from this by writing a thorough lease agreement containing a legally-binding early termination clause. Another option you can take is to take it off your plate altogether. At Wolfnest, we provide professional property management services that can help you save time and money. We specialize in filling vacant properties, handling tenants, and much more. Start managing properties the Wolfnest way today!

 

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How to Market my Utah Rental Property?

How to Market my Utah Rental Property?

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So you have decided that you are going to rent out your home, the next logical question you will probably ask is: How do I find a qualified tenant? There will always be quality people that are looking for a Utah rental property, but you will need to actively seek them out. Here are some tips that will help you find the right tenant and start covering your mortgage each month:

 

  • Put a Sign in the Front Yard – This might seem like the most obvious marketing tip in the world, but it always amazes me how many owners don’t do this. By putting a sign in the yard, it will not advertise to potential tenants that drive, but it will also let your neighbors know that the property is for rent. If your neighbors really like the area, they will let their friends and family know about any available properties. It really is amazing how many rentals are filled this way, and how inexpensive this advertising is.
  • Make Sure your Property can be Found Online – Oh, how the times have changed! In today’s market, more than 80% of prospective tenants begin their search online for a Utah rental property. There are so many free classified ad websites on the Internet, as well as many inexpensive sources that specifically target renters. This makes it easy to market your home to a wide range of people. If done correctly, your property may only remain vacant for a few days!
  • Tell the World About your Property – You should never be ashamed to pitch your rental property to family, friends, and related professionals. Maybe your brother has a friend that is looking for a home to rent or your friend has a co-worker that needs to lease a place. In addition to these people, your real estate agent and mortgage broker are great resources for finding interested tenants. They are constantly working with individuals that would like to purchase a home, but can’t for a variety of reasons. This word of mouth advertising does not cost you anything and can be very effective.

 

There is no shortage of things that you can do to get your Utah rental property filled with quality tenants. They do exist, but you really do have to be proactive in finding them. If you have any questions about how to market your rental home for prospective tenants or if you are considering hiring a property management company, please contact us at FRE Property Management. We are the premier property management company in Utah and will provide you with the peace of mind knowing that your investment is being taken care of. Contact us today at 801-673-5692.