Even the most thorough tenant screening process cannot prevent some problems, such as a tenant breaking his lease and moving out early. This is likely a cause of fiscal concern for you, as you had every reason to believe that monthly income was forthcoming. However, you have a right to the rent your tenant legally promised to pay, through the end of the lease, even if he moves out early. The first step to reclaiming this income is to send your tenant a letter detailing both his and your responsibilities and rights under state law.
Gather Your Information
Collect all the pertinent information before you begin drafting your letter. Your lease agreement is the most important document you need, and you'll also require updated contact information for your tenant, as you'll need to deliver the letter either in person or via certified mail. Additionally, research your state tenancy laws on lease breaking to make sure you have all the correct legal information.
Create the Letter
Write a letter to the tenant that includes the address of the rental unit your tenant had been occupying, the full names of everyone who signed the rental agreement and the date the letter was written. The letter should also state the dates of the tenancy agreement -- when the tenant moved in and when he was supposed to move out, according to the contract you both signed.
Give Proper Notification
Notify your tenant that he has broken a legally binding rental agreement and that, while he may not live in the rental home anymore, he is still responsible for the rent up to the end of the lease period or until you find a new tenant. Quote in the letter any part of the lease that pertains to this subject.
State that as a landlord, you are required to make a reasonable attempt to re-rent the vacant unit before the end of the original lease. Add that in addition to the rent your tenant owes, he may also be responsible for added costs you may incur while searching for a new tenant due to his contract breach, such as the cost of advertising and showing the rental as well as any necessary repairs.
Inform your tenant that if he does not comply with the requests you make in your letter, you will be taking legal action against him to recover your financial losses. Keep a copy of the letter for your records.
Review State Law
Check your state laws, as some states allow a tenant to break a lease under certain conditions such as a call to military service, health problems, or job relocation. If your state's tenancy laws allow these stipulations, require that your tenant send you a written letter detailing the reason or reasons he moved out early.
- NOLO.com: Breaking a Lease and Leaving Early
- NOLO: Terminating a Lease or Rental Agreement FAQ - What Happens if a Tenant Breaks a Lease?
- Nolo. "Tenant Rights to a Livable Place." Accessed March 24, 2020.
- Justia. "Major Repairs and Maintenance." Accessed March 24, 2020.
- Washington Law Help. "I am a Tenant Living in a Foreclosed Property. What are My Rights?" Accessed March 24, 2020.
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "FHA Single Family Housing Policy Handbook - Glossary," Page 5. Accessed March 24, 2020.
- Bornstein Law. "A glance at owner move-in evictions in 2018." Accessed March 24, 2020.
- Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. "Student or Not, You Have Rights as a Tenant." Accessed March 24, 2020.
Kate Savage is a writer and editor with more than eight years experience writing and editing professionally. She holds a master's degree in writing and editing as well as a bachelor's degree in English literature. Her writing has been featured on a number of websites, including eHow, GlobalPost, and SFGate.com. She lives in Portland, Ore.