Logistics of breaking a lease

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EnjoyIt
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Logistics of breaking a lease

Post by EnjoyIt »

My brother in Law just got a great opportunity in another state. He has a 2 year lease which he needs to break after living there for a little over 1 year. Does he have any options? What can he do? He currently resides in Austin Texas and the statute say:
If a tenant wants to move out early and break their lease for a reason other than one listed in the "Statutory Rights to Terminate a Lease" box below, they continue to owe the landlord rent under the lease until a new tenant can be found.

Section 91.006 of the Texas Property Code describes a "landlord's duty to mitigate damages," which means that a landlord must try to find a new tenant and help reduce the amount of rent the former tenant owes under the lease. A condition of a lease that says that a landlord does not have duty to mitigate damages is void under this law.

A landlord must use "objectively reasonable efforts" to find a replacement tenant that is "suitable under the circumstances." They are not required to just take "any willing tenant." (Austin Hill County Realty, Inc. v. Palisades Plaza, Inc., 948 S.W.2d 293).

If a landlord can't find a new tenant or the security deposit does not cover the rent that the tenant owed, the landlord may send the tenant's debt to collections or sue them over the unpaid rent. Actions like these can make it more difficult to rent in the future, so a tenant should be very careful when making a decision to end a lease early.
Does he have any options? What have other landlords on this forum done in similar situations. I'm sure a landlord would not want a tenant that is upset, forced to stay, and risk a tenant retaliating by destroying the place.
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momvesting
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Re: Logistics of breaking a lease

Post by momvesting »

He needs to read his lease carefully, some leases contain provisions for this and as long as the provisions comply with the law, the provisions of the lease are what would stand if this ever went to court. There is a special provision for military orders, so if he is military and has orders this goes a different way, but from your post it does not sound like this is the case.
sport
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Re: Logistics of breaking a lease

Post by sport »

It would seem that he would have an option to try to negotiate a settlement. The landlord may or may not be agreeable to this and/or the settlement offered my not be acceptable.
59Gibson
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Re: Logistics of breaking a lease

Post by 59Gibson »

Th Law sounds very similar to state in which I live. The landlord must in good faith attempt to find another tenant. Knowing what I've heard about the RE mkt in Austin, I do not think it should be a problem to find another renter in a reasonable amount of time. 1-2 months.
Joylush
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Re: Logistics of breaking a lease

Post by Joylush »

My leases have early termination clauses. Our state allows early termination fees of up to two months rent to break a lease if it’s included as an option when you sign the lease. I only charge 1/2 a month rent to break a lease. Others charge the maximum.

See if his lease contains any similar clauses. The landlord is obligated to rerent the place as quickly as possible so as to mitigate the loss/cost to the tenant breaking the lease.

I suggest contacting the landlord, leaving the place immaculate, allow him to show the property to potential tenants without balking, etc...work with the landlord and they will be more inclined to work with you.
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gwe67
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Re: Logistics of breaking a lease

Post by gwe67 »

If it's a large apartment complex, then no problem, they will find another person quickly. Maybe not his exact unit since it may need some rehab, but they will enter into other leases and shouldn't be able to hold it against him.

If it's a single-family home, that's a different situation, especially if the rent is high and the landlord is choosy.
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hayesfj
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Re: Logistics of breaking a lease

Post by hayesfj »

Depending on the opportunity, but the new employer may be willing to help with "relocation" expenses, including breaking the old lease.
sailaway
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Re: Logistics of breaking a lease

Post by sailaway »

gwe67 wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 4:31 pm If it's a large apartment complex, then no problem, they will find another person quickly. Maybe not his exact unit since it may need some rehab, but they will enter into other leases and shouldn't be able to hold it against him.

If it's a single-family home, that's a different situation, especially if the rent is high and the landlord is choosy.
Uh, no. If it is a complex, they can charge him until they fill that specific unit. That isn't even a particularly gray area, although sleazy ones will steer tenants to other units since they can continue to charge for that one, which is dark gray and black of heart.
Big Dog
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Re: Logistics of breaking a lease

Post by Big Dog »

does he have the ability (in the lease) to sublet?
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Watty
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Re: Logistics of breaking a lease

Post by Watty »

EnjoyIt wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 3:57 pm Does he have any options?
One option would be for him to find someone to take over the lease for him. The mechanics of this would depend on the details of the lease since he might be able to sublease it or the new renter may need to be approved by the landlord.
LittleMaggieMae
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Re: Logistics of breaking a lease

Post by LittleMaggieMae »

Does he have any options? What have other landlords on this forum done in similar situations. I'm sure a landlord would not want a tenant that is upset, forced to stay, and risk a tenant retaliating by destroying the place.
Your BIL needs to read his lease - or if it's a daunting proposition to go thru the lease - maybe you could help him. (FWIW: the lease for my rental (provided by my Property Manager is 28 pages long - single spaced in a small font with 1/2 inch margins all around - it's a dense wordy document. My tenants have to initial each section of the lease indicating that they understand the topics covered on those pages. Some of the pages are because of the HOA. )

If he is renting thru a property manager odds are the lease will have information on how to go about "breaking the lease".
If he's renting from Joe Landlord and signed a home made lease agreement that Mr. Landlord modified and printed off the internet - it may or may not have "breaking the lease" outlined.
If he's renting from Jack Landlord and they have a handshake agreement - I got nothing for you... I'm not that kind of Landlord. (and I don't mean that in a bad way. I like formal agreements signed and dated.)

As a landlord - I've had tenants who have asked to break the original lease. One was "complicated". With my approval, the property manager negotiated a new contract/lease - since the tenant wasn't sure WHEN they would be able to move out. Another tenant just told the PM they were leaving at the end of the month and paid all the fees/expenses/whatnot as outlined in the lease (yay me! cha ching!!) My lease does NOT allow sublets.

Once your BIL has reviewed the lease perhaps he can sublet? Or if that's not part of the lease - he can communicate with the Landlord about his need to break the lease. If the cost of breaking the lease is too high for your BIL - he can perhaps negotiate with the Landlord. The Landlord is NOT required by law to change the original lease agreement. Your BIL is basically throwing himself on the Landlord's mercy if he asks for any changes to the original lease agreement.
Last edited by LittleMaggieMae on Wed May 05, 2021 5:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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gwe67
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Re: Logistics of breaking a lease

Post by gwe67 »

sailaway wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 4:46 pm
gwe67 wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 4:31 pm If it's a large apartment complex, then no problem, they will find another person quickly. Maybe not his exact unit since it may need some rehab, but they will enter into other leases and shouldn't be able to hold it against him.

If it's a single-family home, that's a different situation, especially if the rent is high and the landlord is choosy.
Uh, no. If it is a complex, they can charge him until they fill that specific unit. That isn't even a particularly gray area, although sleazy ones will steer tenants to other units since they can continue to charge for that one, which is dark gray and black of heart.
Doesn't' sound like that would work in Texas. "A landlord has a duty to mitigate damages if a tenant abandons the leased premises in violation of the lease."

I left an apartment complex in Texas shortly after signing a one year lease. I ended up paying two months rent. They probably rented it out sooner than that, but I did not dispute.
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ResearchMed
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Re: Logistics of breaking a lease

Post by ResearchMed »

Real estate costs have been increasing recently in many areas.
Is there any chance that the rents have gone up such that the landlord would actually be interested in having that year rented at a higher rate?
That possibility also depends upon, as mentioned already, what type of rental this is, such as a large complex with rare vacancies... vs several empty units, etc.

Also, speaking with the landlord could be useful, even if there's no special lease clause about breaking a lease. Landlord might be interested in getting 2-3 months of rent while also renting to someone else or while doing some renovations/routine repainting, etc.

And if it's a smaller landlord, especially in something like a 2- or 3-family building where the landlord also lives, there's a much higher chance of a "picky landlord", and one that might be considered understandable. (Still can't discriminate against a protected class, but there's likely to be more discretion allowed, depending upon jurisdiction.)

A lot of this depends upon the specifics.

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adamthesmythe
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Re: Logistics of breaking a lease

Post by adamthesmythe »

1. Read the lease.

2.If the lease allows termination with a penalty or such can be negotiated this makes the termination cleaner, and there is no need to be concerned about how diligently the landlord attempts to rent the unit. Yes, it will cost a bunch of money, but less than the total of the remaining rent.

3. Reflect on the fact that it can be easier to sell a house than to get out of a lease early.
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cchrissyy
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Re: Logistics of breaking a lease

Post by cchrissyy »

his lease may have outlined what happens in this case, and it might be more accommodating than the statute requires. he needs to read it. if it is a poorly drafted lease and the topic is not addressed, then he should check with the city tenants rights office for guidance, if one exists, but i expect it will go like your quote says - he notifies the landlord of his move-out date, and the landlord is obligated to market the property and make a good effort to fill the vacancy, and your BIL is on the hook for paying his rent until whatever date the new tenancy begins.

I have done this as a tenant, and only had to pay like a week of extra rent. the landlord was annoyed but it was a hot market and they charged the next person more so i think it was mostly a win-win.
LittleMaggieMae
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Re: Logistics of breaking a lease

Post by LittleMaggieMae »

If the tenant just ups and leaves and stops paying rent... they are also forfeiting the security deposit (I've seen these as high as 4 months rent) and any other refundable fees they've paid.
Topic Author
EnjoyIt
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Re: Logistics of breaking a lease

Post by EnjoyIt »

Thank you all for the response. My brother in law is living in a duplex in a development. I think he would be okay with simply paying an extra 1-2 months rent and be done with it if the landlord allowed. He is still in final negotiations on his contract with his new employer but it is looking really good so he is trying o figure out his options. His lease agreement is a cookie cutter looking thing with no specific lease breaking discussion in there.
LittleMaggieMae wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 5:10 pm
Does he have any options? What have other landlords on this forum done in similar situations. I'm sure a landlord would not want a tenant that is upset, forced to stay, and risk a tenant retaliating by destroying the place.
Your BIL needs to read his lease - or if it's a daunting proposition to go thru the lease - maybe you could help him. (FWIW: the lease for my rental (provided by my Property Manager is 28 pages long - single spaced in a small font with 1/2 inch margins all around - it's a dense wordy document. My tenants have to initial each section of the lease indicating that they understand the topics covered on those pages. Some of the pages are because of the HOA. )

If he is renting thru a property manager odds are the lease will have information on how to go about "breaking the lease".
If he's renting from Joe Landlord and signed a home made lease agreement that Mr. Landlord modified and printed off the internet - it may or may not have "breaking the lease" outlined.
If he's renting from Jack Landlord and they have a handshake agreement - I got nothing for you... I'm not that kind of Landlord. (and I don't mean that in a bad way. I like formal agreements signed and dated.)

As a landlord - I've had tenants who have asked to break the original lease. One was "complicated". With my approval, the property manager negotiated a new contract/lease - since the tenant wasn't sure WHEN they would be able to move out. Another tenant just told the PM they were leaving at the end of the month and paid all the fees/expenses/whatnot as outlined in the lease (yay me! cha ching!!) My lease does NOT allow sublets.

Once your BIL has reviewed the lease perhaps he can sublet? Or if that's not part of the lease - he can communicate with the Landlord about his need to break the lease. If the cost of breaking the lease is too high for your BIL - he can perhaps negotiate with the Landlord. The Landlord is NOT required by law to change the original lease agreement. Your BIL is basically throwing himself on the Landlord's mercy if he asks for any changes to the original lease agreement.
Thank you for sharing your landlord experience. May I ask. Is it not in your best interest to allow a renter to break a lease amicably so as to not risk unnecessary damage to your place? I would think, my biggest concern as a landlord is that the tenants pay timely and don't destroy my place. What are your thoughts?
Watty wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 4:59 pm
EnjoyIt wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 3:57 pm Does he have any options?
One option would be for him to find someone to take over the lease for him. The mechanics of this would depend on the details of the lease since he might be able to sublease it or the new renter may need to be approved by the landlord.
He is planning on offering to clean up the place real nice and willing to bend over backwards to allow prospective tenants to look.
Big Dog wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 4:52 pm does he have the ability (in the lease) to sublet?
can't sublet.
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Topic Author
EnjoyIt
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Re: Logistics of breaking a lease

Post by EnjoyIt »

LittleMaggieMae wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 5:32 pm If the tenant just ups and leaves and stops paying rent... they are also forfeiting the security deposit (I've seen these as high as 4 months rent) and any other refundable fees they've paid.
Security Deposit is 1 months rent which he would be happy to give up to break the lease.
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J295
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Re: Logistics of breaking a lease

Post by J295 »

My suggested solution for the tenant… He should find another qualified tenant and present him/her to the landlord.

The landlords I know would generally hold a tenant to the terms of the lease. The prospects of an unhappy tenant damaging the property don’t enter into the equation in terms of a resolution. Landlords live with that risk every day, and if there are recoverable damages (whether for property damages and/or unpaid rent) the landlord can simply turn the file over to collection.
bogledogle
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Re: Logistics of breaking a lease

Post by bogledogle »

1) Tell landlord/property manager you are moving out and they to find a new tenant. They are required to do so per law.
2) Offer a set amount of money for breaking lease. Pay and get out.
3) Find a tenant yourself. Your landlord needs to comply to laws on requirements.
4) Hire a property manager yourself if dealing with your landlord is a pain. Have them find a replacement tenant.
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JonnyDVM
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Re: Logistics of breaking a lease

Post by JonnyDVM »

I would explain the situation to the landlord. Keep the place neat for showings, and facilitate finding a new tenant anyway he can. As previously mentioned, my understanding is that is a hot market and I’m guessing finding a new tenant should be relatively easy.
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GibsonL6s
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Re: Logistics of breaking a lease

Post by GibsonL6s »

If there is no set lease break clause, the simplest thing to do is negotiate one with the LL and make it a part of the package. If he moves and leaves it up to the LL he could be on the hook for the total balance of the lease, if he sublets, he could be on the hook for the damage caused by the subtenant.

Keep it simple and make it final!
LittleMaggieMae
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Re: Logistics of breaking a lease

Post by LittleMaggieMae »

EnjoyIt wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 5:37 pm
Thank you for sharing your landlord experience. May I ask. Is it not in your best interest to allow a renter to break a lease amicably so as to not risk unnecessary damage to your place? I would think, my biggest concern as a landlord is that the tenants pay timely and don't destroy my place. What are your thoughts?
I worked with the tenant who asked nicely for some special treatment in breaking the lease. I didn't give them exactly what they asked for (which was pretty much the golden egg AND the goose that laid it) but we did negotiate changes to the terms/costs of breaking the lease that were financially beneficial to both of us. The lease they signed had explicit instructions for breaking the lease - I was nice and changed those instructions for them.

I like to think the best of my tenants even though I never meet them. The Property Manager does credit checks, employer checks, and a background check as part of the renting my property. I would like to think that most people aren't vindictive/angry at heart.

Maybe I'm not sure what "amicably" means in this case - do you mean the renter is assuming/expecting that they will be let off scot free when they break their lease despite what's outlined in the contract they signed? Cause that's not very fair - they signed a binding contract. If there were no instructions for 'breaking the lease' in the contract - then they will need to negotiate with the landlord OR perhaps the local laws would outline what the tenants and landlords rights are in this situation. Either way "expecting" to get off scot free seems to be kind of "over optimistic" to me.

As for tenants - someone who is going to do malicious damage because they feel unfairly treated - has bigger problems/issues than those associated with breaking a lease. Hopefully, the landlord manages to avoid renting to this kind of person (I suspect there are clues that they are a, um, difficult person when the landlord interviews them, runs a credit, employer, and background check and checks their references.)
hachiko
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Re: Logistics of breaking a lease

Post by hachiko »

In Austin leases are being filled within a week. This shouldn't be an issue.

You may have to pay a broker fee or something like that - basically the landlord just passing it to you. Especially if the new renter just signs a 1 year lease (finishing out your lease). If the new renter signs a 2 year lease maybe you agree to split whatever acquisition costs there are.
modest_man
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Re: Logistics of breaking a lease

Post by modest_man »

Some lawyers can legally break your lease.

I hired one when I found my condo. At the time, I was about 5 months into my 12 month renewal lease. I submitted the lease documents for the lawyer to review at no charge. He said he could legally break it so I paid him $625.

At the time, I think the penalty for breaking the lease was three months rent - so $4500. After I moved, they offered a global release for $1000. I politely declined. They made another offer at $200. I declined that one as well.

YMMV based on lawyers in your area.
dcop
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Re: Logistics of breaking a lease

Post by dcop »

IMO the very first thing to do always is try to convince the owner or whoever it is that handles the leases to agree to only charging 2 months rent to break the lease. That is very fair and then you don't have to look at other options which will most likely involve a lawyer or waiting on the place to be rented.
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