Have your tenants called it quits?
No landlord wants to get the call that their tenants no longer want to live together. Whether they are romantic partners or not, these conversations are rarely easy. One tenant may want something from you, such as releasing them or the other tenant from the lease. Maybe they want you to take care of kicking the other person out of the unit for them. You did your best to set up your lease agreement so that you did not have to deal with this, so what should you do now?
First, check your lease
Do you have an early lease termination clause? This will define what happens if the tenant wants to break out of the lease. What if only one party wants to leave? Have you addressed this in your document? This document often includes the notice that must be given and a penalty that will be due.
If you did not include an early termination clause in your lease, or if you have not addressed when one party is leaving, then you may need to be willing to compromise after reviewing state law.
You may have also addressed this situation with reference to subletting. If your lease did not prohibit subletting then, subjective to state laws, your tenant may be able to do so. While this allows another tenant to move in and take over for the departing tenant, subleasing comes with a whole new set of headaches for landlords and a tenant that you have not selected. So check your lease!
Picture what will happen next
Once one of the tenants departs, you’ll be left with the remaining tenant or tenants. Take a look at the tenants you are left with to determine what will happen next.
•Can your remaining tenant afford the rent on their own? – If the departing tenant was not contributing much to the rent, check in with your tenant to see if they can cover the increase in their portion of the rent. Have a conversation to see how they feel about paying the rent alone.
•Is there an opportunity for a roommate? – Perhaps they would prefer to live alone without bringing another roommate into the situation. Talk to the tenant to see what they have in mind.
•If I let the other tenant out of the lease that means they no longer would have to pay damage. Do I want to let one party off now? – Think about whether these tenants have been respectful of the property so far. Do I need to cut my losses and start over with a new pair of tenants? – Assess how you feel about your remaining tenant, as keeping a great tenant can save you time and money down the line.
Think about these issues and know how you want to respond to their questions and requests, as they will surely have some. Keep an eye on your state laws, but always keep your best interest in mind. Make sure the departing tenant and the remaining tenant understand exactly what their financial obligations will be. Stay above the fray and do not get involved in any personal issues between these tenants, and don’t allow the tenants to draw you into their drama. If the tenants are feeling emotional about a difficult breakup, be sure to assess whether what they would like to do is feasible. Know your lease, know your laws, and think about what you want along with what your tenants want.