When your tenant breaks a lease by leaving the rental property before the term expires, you have the right to collect the money you are owed. A lease agreement with a fixed term means the tenant owes you rent until you can lease the property out again to a qualified renter or the lease expires, whichever happens first. Whether the tenant gave you notice or simply vacated in secret, the methods for collecting rent are the same.
To prevent this from happening, landlords look for professional property management of their units in Pacific Beach, CA, and the nearby areas. Read on!
What can a landlord do if a tenant breaks the lease?
The landlord has the right to claim and collect the rent when a tenant breaks the lease and leaves the property before the expiration of the lease term for the whole duration or until the end of the notice period. Lease agreements with a fixed term contain the obligation of the tenant to pay the rent until the expiry of the term or until the property is rented out again, whichever occurs first. Therefore, the methods for due rent collecting are the same, regardless of whether the tenant has given notice or simply left the property without any notification.
This can create complicated situations for the landlord. They have to start looking for a new tenant and may encounter problems collecting the due rent or compensation for damages caused by the tenant. Following are some tips that can ease the situation for the landlord in case a tenant breaks his lease:
Open a communication file
All communication with the tenant related to a lease should be well documented. On top of the lease agreement, landlords should start keeping records in a dedicated file of all written communication with the tenant related to lease termination issues. Notices from the tenant about the intention and decision to break the lease should be filed. The filed information may prove important and is potential evidence in a court proceeding that the landlord might initiate to recover any rent and other money owed.
Send a notice
The tenant who wishes to break the lease must be reminded of his obligations under the lease agreement, especially that he must pay the rent on time and as usual until the contracted lease term expires, or the property is rented to a new tenant. In addition, the tenant should be reminded that any failure to abide by the terms of the agreement in relation to the rent payment may result in legal action, regardless of the fact that he may not be living anymore at the rental property. All such notices and communication should be signed and dated, hand delivered or sent by certified or registered return mail to his current or last known address.
Inspect the property
If the tenant has given notice of his intention of breaking the lease and in all other cases if possible, the landlord should try to inspect the property before the tenant vacates it. The landlord should have an inspection checklist to fill and review with the tenant all potential damages and other issues related to the property before he leaves. If the tenant has just abandoned the property, the landlord must inspect it on his own and note and document any damages, by taking pictures of any damages that go beyond normal wear and tear. This checklist and photos should be included in the file.
Prepare for rent
The landlord should start to prepare the property for rent and advertising and looking for a new tenant as soon as possible. This is also important for a potential court case where the landlord should prove that he has done everything within his power and duty to mitigate the damage from the broken rent. The landlord should also note the dates of the new rental agreement and moving in of the new tenant.
Collect money owed from the tenant
The landlord should calculate the amount of rent owed by the original tenant in accordance with the rental agreement from the time the rent went unpaid to the date of moving in of the new tenant. To this sum should be added all amounts the original tenant owes for damages to the rental property and this total amount should be deducted from the original tenant’s security deposit. These calculations should also be filed.
If the original tenant does not pay by the contracted deadlines, the landlord may file a civil suit. The court will then undertake various steps following its procedure, contact the original tenant, and set a date for a hearing. Since both the landlord and the tenant have to appear before the judge and present their information and version of events, it is important to bring a well-documented file and all the written evidence. This will prove to the judge that the landlord has undertaken all necessary measures to collect the due rent on his own and that he has acted with due diligence and reasonably throughout the process.
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