When a tenant breaks their lease, they’re often met with frustration. After all, it’s every property owner’s and property management company’s worst nightmare to have a vacancy that they didn’t prepare for. The reality, however, is that not all tenants intentionally end their lease. Sometimes, tenants end their lease for valid reasons – some of them even involve you, the real estate investor.
To find out when tenants can end their lease without repercussions, read on. This article will explain the times when tenants can end their lease for reasons that aren’t their fault.
What does it mean when a tenant breaks their lease?
In general, lease agreements are hard to break. Property owners (aka you) don’t want their tenants to leave unexpectedly, as that would mean more expenses on their part. If a tenant insists to end their lease before it’s due to end, the owner is allowed to collect a fee for its early termination.
When a tenant breaks their lease, that means that they’ve signed off their rights to live in the rental property. It allows the property owner to re-rent the unit to another tenant. In short, it means that the tenant is not the tenant anymore.
As a rule of thumb, tenants aren’t allowed to break their lease whenever they want. Rental contracts typically run for a predetermined period – for instance, one year for a “regular” rental or one month for a short-term rental.
However, there are a handful of situations wherein the tenant can end their lease without repercussions or penalties. That’s what we’ll talk about below.
When can a tenant legally break their lease?
#1 If the landlord fails to provide a habitable property
By now, you are probably aware that you’re responsible for how habitable your South Florida rental property is. Essentially, this means that you should maintain your rental’s condition and ensure that it’s in tip-top shape at all times. However, if you fail to do this (e.g. you don’t conduct regular repairs, clean the unit, etc.), your tenants can claim that their safety is at risk. Therefore, they can terminate their rental contract without any repercussions.
Of course, word of mouth won’t be sufficient to prove that the property is uninhabitable. They’ll need to file a complaint and wait for an inspector to verify if the claim is valid. Alternatively, they could report it to you, and if you don’t do anything, that could be legal grounds to end the lease agreement.
To mitigate this, partner with a property management firm that can conduct regular repairs, maintenance, inspections, and more. That way, your tenants can continue to live in a rental home that’s safe and secure.
#2 If the landlord displays “bad” behavior
Tenants can also end their lease early if their landlord is at fault. For instance, if their landlord enters the unit without first informing their tenants, they can end their lease for that reason. By law, landlords are not allowed to enter a rental unit (even if they own it) if they do not get the go signal from its inhabitants. So, if you plan to conduct repairs, be sure to let your tenant know, or else they’ll break their rental contract.
An obvious reason for breaking the lease is bad behavior from the real estate investor. If the landlord threatens their tenants for not paying their rent on time, this can be legal grounds for ending the lease agreement. Plus, if the property owner makes inappropriate advances towards a tenant, the tenant can file a complaint and break their lease to get out of that risky situation.
#3 If the tenant is a victim of domestic violence
If your tenant’s safety is at risk, they may be able to break the lease. As long as they can prove that they’ve been victims of domestic violence (e.g. emergency protective order or police report), they can ask their landlord to terminate their lease agreement. In general, the act of violence must have happened in the past 3 to 6 months, but this may vary by state, so be sure to consult your property management agent.
Furthermore, the tenant may need to provide the property owner with written notice of at least 30 days prior to the desired termination date. If the property owner agrees, the tenant does not need to pay the remaining rent. They will only need to pay the rent up to the termination date.
#4 If the rental property is illegal
Tenants can also end their lease if they’ve been renting out an illegal rental unit all along. This can happen when the property owner rents out their home without consulting the homeowners association (HOA). Be sure to thoroughly read your HOA’s rules and regulations to find out if you can turn your property into a rental, or ask your South Florida property management firm to look into this for you.
In this situation, the tenant may be entitled to a return of their rent. They may also be entitled to money that they can use to find another rental apartment or home.
#5 If the tenant needs to serve in the military
According to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act or SCRA, military members can legally end their lease agreement if they need to serve, or if they receive orders that would require them to relocate for a period of over 90 days. In this situation, it would be illegal for the property owner to say no to the tenant’s request.
As long as the tenant provides the landlord with a written notice and a copy of the orders coming from a commanding officer, they can end their lease agreement legally.
When you partner with Luxury Property Care, you can rest assured that you’ll have experts to guide you along the way. Our team has been serving the South Florida area for years – we know when your tenant can and can’t terminate their lease agreement early. And if they are allowed, we’ve got the expertise to help you re-rent your unit in no time.
For more information, call us at (561) 944 – 2992 or complete our contact form today. One of our representatives will provide you with an obligation-free quote for our South Florida property management services.