What To Do If A Tenant Leaves Early?

What To Do If A Tenant Leaves Early?

Being a landlord, as with many roles, is often about dealing with unexpected problems. It is not uncommon for tenants to ask to leave a tenancy agreement early. Sometimes you will receive notice of this request, and other times the first notice you receive is when you find an empty rental property, and the tenant isn't returning your calls.

The latter situation is more challenging and frightening for a landlord. With the first instance, there is an opportunity for landlords to minimise the impact of a tenant leaving early.

When there is a tenancy agreement in place, landlords have the law on their side. Unless the tenancy is legally terminated, the tenant is liable for the full amount of rent to the stated end-date. However, it may be in the landlord's best interests to work with the tenant, and allow them to vacate the rental property early.

There are often valid reasons a tenant leaves rental property early

There may be valid reasons why tenants leave the rental property early. This doesn't change the legal situation or responsibilities, but if you are keen to be a helpful and compassionate landlord, these reasons will likely influence your decision and behaviour.

The best outcome is usually based on reaching a compromise. If the tenant is looking to leave the rental property early, try to reach an agreement that they only pay rent until a new tenant moves into the property, regardless of whether this happens before the agreed date.

If a tenant plans on leaving, landlords have to find new tenants. This process would begin at the end of the tenancy agreement, so it is not an unexpected cost or amount of work for a landlord, it is merely happening sooner than expected.

If the tenant is still in place for a short spell, persuade them to assist with making the property presentable, and in allowing viewings. If the tenant is willing to help in these matters, you should let the property sooner rather than later, which will enable you to be flexible concerning the amount of rent the exiting tenant owes you.

Work with the outgoing tenant to find a suitable solution
Some landlords have been known to ask the outgoing tenant to cover some of the marketing costs. Depending on the tenants' circumstances, they may find this is a suitable charge in light of the events, but each tenant is different.

If the tenant vacates the property and doesn't inform the landlord, you have a different situation to consider. You must act in the right manner, and you cannot dispose of the tenants' belongings if there are any.

You must follow proper procedures, including trying to reach the tenant and posting a notice at the property advising the tenant to contact you. While landlords have the law on their side regarding a tenant leaving the property early, a failure to follow procedures could limit any claim a landlord can make.
When a tenant leaves early, it is understandably a challenging time for a landlord. Working closely with a local agent helps to minimise this risk, and it also provides guidance if the situation arises. If you are a landlord looking for help in managing tenants, contact SK Property Management, and we'll be more than happy to assist you.