In the past, we have discussed the various reasons why your Maryland tenants maybe able to legally break their lease agreement with you.
Things such as being called to active military duty, being a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, and even things you do such as harassing your tenant, or failing to provide a safe and habitable place of living, are all legitimate reasons your tenant may initiate an early lease termination.
But have you ever thought about it the other way around, with landlords as the ones to break the lease agreement?
Today we are going to discuss the legal reasons a Catonsville landlord may break the binding contract they agreed to with their tenants at the start of their tenancy.
3 Legal Reasons a Catonsville Landlord May Break a Lease
Catonsville landlords should seek advisement from their property management company if they want to terminate a lease agreement early.
Since every state has their own set of rules and regulations, in addition to the federal landlord-tenant laws all property owners must abide by, it is important to consult with your property manager before quitting a lease agreement early, in order to avoid legal troubles.
That said, there are some general reasons why you may be able to initiate an early lease termination in Maryland that apply whether you own property in Catonsville or not.
1. Violations of the Lease Agreement
If your tenant repeatedly violates any terms of their lease agreement, you may legally terminate the lease with proper notice.
Here are the major violations that tend to force landlords to initiate an early lease termination:
Failure to Pay Rent
If you use an experienced Maryland property management company, you should know by now that failure to pay rent on time, every time, is a major breach of the lease agreement.
And, if your property manager cares about the status of your rental property business, they will begin the eviction process as soon as your tenant fails to pay on time.
This not only reminds your tenants that you are serious when it comes to paying rent; it also protects you from losing too much rent income.
In addition, the minute a tenant feels you will not enforce the rules, they will begin to take advantage of you. That’s why administering the consequences, regardless of the reason rent is late, is so crucial to your success as a rental property owner.
Lease Provision Violation
There is a reason you and your property manager go through every line of the lease agreement with your tenant prior to move-in day.
This way, all involved parties fully understand what is expected of them throughout the lease term.
Lease provisions include things such as:
- Rent collection
- Pet policies
- Maintenance and repair responsibilities
- Rules regarding a tenant’s ability to alter the interior of the property
- And more
If your tenant signs the lease agreement understanding the rules, and breaches that agreement, you have grounds to terminate the lease early.
Breaking the Law
Another common reason you may feel the need to terminate your Catonsville tenant’s lease agreement early is if they break the law on the property they lease from you.
Though your property manager should have included terms in the lease agreement addressing your zero-tolerance policy for things such as illegal drug use or any other criminal activity, you can still consider early termination without those provisions.
Again, consult with your property manager to ensure state and local laws support your reason for wanting to break the lease.
2. Property Damage
If your tenant damages your rental property, you may have the right to break the lease agreement with them early. However, be sure that the type of damage inflicted is grounds for an early lease break.
You cannot terminate a lease agreement for just any type of property damage.
Tenants are not responsible for damage to your property that is a result of normal wear and tear.
However, whether by accident or on purpose, any excessive damage, such as broken windows or flooded flooring due to negligence, is the responsibility of your tenant.
And, depending on the circumstances surrounding the damage, you might want to break the lease early with your tenant if the damage is serious enough.
3. To Sell the Property or Move-in
There are times when a landlord feels they need to sell their rental property, or move back into it and make it their primary residence.
But what if these feelings happen halfway through a tenant’s lease term?
The only way you can break a lease early with your Catonsville tenant to sell your property or move back in, is to have this outlined in the lease agreement you both signed.
So long as your tenants agree to all of the lease provisions, and sign on the dotted line, you are legally able to enforce those provisions throughout the lease term.
This can apply to your wanting to sell the property mid-tenancy.
However, as mentioned before, it is important you know exactly what you are doing before initiating this process. The last thing you want to do is illegally break the lease term and reap the consequences of it.
Breaking the Lease the Legal Way
If you run into a situation where you want to initiate an early lease termination with your Catonsville tenant, make sure you have the help of your Maryland property management company so it is done properly.
Breaking a lease with your tenants is a process. And, it typically begins with proper notice of termination:
- Pay Rent or Quit. For those times when your tenant refuses to pay rent on time, you can send them notice to pay rent within a certain period of time, (usually 3-5 days) or ask them to vacate the premises.
- Cure or Quit. When your tenant is breaking a lease provision outlined in the lease agreement, and you want to break the lease early, you must first send them a notice with the option to cure the problem, or vacate the premises.
- Unconditional Quit. This means there are no options for your tenant to pay up or fix the problem they are causing. Instead, they simply must vacate the premises within a certain period of time.
If you are a Catonsville landlord looking to break a lease early, chances are you will want to use an Unconditional Quit notice. That way, you can break the lease immediately, and move forward with finding new tenants to lease your rental.
In Maryland, the following amount of notice is required when delivering an Unconditional Quit notice to your tenants:
- 14 days’ notice is required for tenants that breach the lease in a way that is dangerous to themselves, others, the landlord, or the property
- 30 days’ notice is required for tenants that pay rent late 3 times in a 12-month period (though you must have won an eviction lawsuit for each instance of nonpayment)
As you can see, breaking the lease with your Catonsville tenants is possible, but there are things to consider before initiating the process.
If you own a rental property in the Catonsville region, and need help drafting a legally compliant lease agreement that addresses things such as early lease termination, both on the part of your tenants, and yourself, contact Bay Management Group today.
We can help you create a lease agreement that touches on all of the policies you want in place, help guide your tenants through the lease during the signing, and even offer tenant welcome packages to remind tenants of what they are responsible for while leasing your investment property.
When hiring Bay Management Group, you will know that your property is being well cared for, and that you have the legal backing to end a lease early, just in case.