SJA Property Management is an industry leader in the Puget Sound area, including Redmond, Bellevue, Kirkland, and Seattle. Today, we’re using our expertise to talk about what you should do when your tenant wants to vacate the rental property early. This essentially means the tenant is breaking his or her lease, and there are a few things to think about when this happens.

Communicate Openly with Your Tenant

Good communication with your tenant is critical, and you need to start the communication process early. When the tenant lets you know that he or she wants to vacate, get a firm departure date and a forwarding address. You’ll need to share all the steps with that tenant and communicate clearly.

Put Together a Strong Lease

Good language in your lease agreement can outline this process so the tenant knows what to expect. In a lease break situation, you are permitted to charge the tenant for any rent remaining in the term of the lease. You can also charge for damages that exceed normal wear and tear, and for any re-leasing or marketing fees that you incur. As a landlord, you have a duty to mitigate those damages by re-renting the property as quickly as possible. The current tenant will remain on the hook until the new tenant’s lease period begins. The lease should reflect that.

Provide Clear Move-Out Instructions

Makes sure your tenant has complete move-out instructions. Those instructions should include how you expect the property to be returned. Outline the condition you expect, and when you expect to receive the keys. You can also let your tenant know how the security deposit will be returned, and when.

We recommend that you start your timeline as soon as you have the keys to the property in your hands. In Washington State, you have 21 days to return the full security deposit and/or an itemized list of deductions. When a tenant vacates the property early, the lease isn’t technically over. However, you do want to start the vacancy timeline, and you want to document everything you do. If you don’t have the property re-rented yet, there will be a balance owed when you return the security deposit disposition.

Work Together to Re-Rent the Home

It’s very important that your tenant understands how the lease break procedure works. Both parties need to work together so you can show the property while the tenant is still living there. When you can get prospective tenants inside, you’ll be able to re-rent it quickly, and that’s in everyone’s best interests. Your current tenants won’t have a large bill, and you’ll get a new tenant in place who is paying rent. Everyone wins.

With communication early in the process and a solid lease, a tenant vacating early won’t be an emergency. You can work through it, and effectively keep the expenses down for your tenant and yourself.

If you have any questions about how this process should go, or anything pertaining to the property management of your rental, please contact us at SJA Property Management.