What to do if Tenants Break Up
It’s a normal thing for couples to break up or for marriages to end in divorce, but what can you do as a landlord when tenants break up? First, you need to remember that tenants cannot evict other tenants hence it’s important to know that the law requires them to fulfill the lease agreement that they signed together. Although this is an unfortunate situation for both tenants and the landlord, they signed an agreement, therefore, both of them are individually liable.
1. Reiterate the legal requirement for the tenants- The vacating tenant should be held responsible for property damage and any rent that is owed before moving out irrespective of when the lease term was expected to end. As a landlord, do not conspire with one member to take actions such as removing anyone from the lease agreement or changing the locks without involving both parties or without legal authorization. To avoid any legal entanglement, you need to proceed with a lot of caution. If one tenant wishes to remain, carefully assess his or her credit worthiness before deciding whether or not to renew the agreement.
2. Avoid getting involved-Breakups can be very dramatic and you would not want to get involved in them. Do not get involved since it’s not your business to do so. Even if there has been a domestic violence stay as professional as possible. Although this may sound strange, you need to protect your business. Besides, you are not a charitable company hence, you are not expected to sort out your tenants’ differences. After leasing out your property you can only ask for damages if there is any.
3. Look at the tenancy agreement- Ensure that you look at who is named at the tenancy agreement and whether they are liable. If both tenants are named on the liability then you are legally allowed to chase them both especially if rent is due. However, if one of the tenants is only named as an occupier then the other tenant is responsible for all the rent that is due. On the contrary, if it is the named occupant who wants to remain then you must sign a new tenancy agreement with him or her. In some cases, there might be two agreements one for each party if this is the situation you might accept a notice from the tenant who is leaving and reissue a new agreement otherwise, you may be entitled to only half the rent.
4. Find out what they want to do- You need to ask them what they want to do and whether one of them wants to stay on. If that is the case ensure that he or she will be able to pay the rent, living costs, plus other bills. If they can then you can let them stay and issue them with a new lease agreement. If you do not issue them with a new agreement you may want to refund any deposit taken so that they can pay afresh. Do not miss out on this since it’s very important. If you are sure that the remaining tenant cannot afford the rent on his or her own then you have the legal right to chase the former for rent.
5. Always be vigilant- When it comes to property management and real estate investing, you need to be very vigilant when emotions seem to be threatening your business. When couples break up, the risk of rent default is imminent hence you need to decide between signing a liability agreement and being able to pursue the tenants through the courts for rent. If both of them vacate before the expiry of the lease agreement, you have the right to pursue them in the court for loss of rent. Besides, the security deposit may also become a major issue between the landlord and the tenants and between the tenants themselves. To be on the safe side, ensure that you address this on written release that is signed by all parties. If you decide to return the security deposit you need to do so to the party who originally wrote the check and leave the divisions of properties to their attorney. When you are in doubt, always consult an attorney so that you can stay informed about the state laws.
Well, that is what to do when tenants break up.