Are you a landlord facing a lease break in your Montgomery County rental property? Unfortunately, sometimes tenants will break their lease early. It’s an inevitability in the property management world, and it’s essential to know how to deal with these circumstances as they arise for a Montgomery County landlord.
Landlords Guide to Lease Breaks in Montgomery County, MD
First, it’s imperative to understand when a tenant can legally break a lease under Maryland state law. Knowing the requirements will help you better navigate situations as they occur. Also, you should know the circumstances that a landlord may allow for lease termination, how to write this clause in a lease, and what to do once the lease-breaking tenant vacates.
Legal Reasons Tenant Can Break a Lease
Active Duty Military:
Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, any service member called to active duty can terminate their lease penalty-free. They must provide a minimum of 30-days notice and must be deployed for no less than 90-days. Service members must also prove that they signed their lease before being called to active duty.
Victims of Sexual Abuse or Domestic Violence:
Anyone that is a victim of sexual abuse or domestic violence also has the right to move out right away without repercussion. Similar to the active-duty policy, tenants must give written notice. You are then required to provide them with a 30-day timeframe for move-out.
Maryland Health or Safety Code Violations:
If your property violates any health or safety codes and the Department of Health or Safety deems the dwelling to be dangerous to life, health, or safety, then you need to allow them to vacate without repercussion. They must follow the proper procedures to prove the violation, and you may be given a timeframe from the Department of Health and Safety to remedy the issue.
Landlord Harassment or Tenant Privacy Violation:
If the landlord has been harassing, threatening, or being violent with a tenant, the tenant can move out and break the lease legally. If the allegations are false, you could take them to court to dispute their claims.
The first two reasons on this list are beyond your control as a landlord; however, landlords can avoid the others. Keep a healthy, safe property home environment for tenants and be polite and professional. Doing so will minimize the potential for lease breaks.
Other Reasons for a Lease Break
We’ve mentioned the legal reasons a tenant can break a lease. There are other common reasons landlords will allow a tenant out of the contract without any fees or consequences. That is up to the discretion of you as the landlord. Here are some examples of these circumstances:
- A tenant is moving for a job. Legally this wouldn’t qualify them for a lease break, but many landlords like to cut the tenant some slack in this common scenario.
- The tenant is getting a divorce or breaking up from the partner they live within that unit.
- The tenant lost their job and will no longer have the income to live there. Letting them out of their lease would be beneficial for both parties, allowing you both to avoid an unfortunate eviction.
A well-written lease is also the best way to keep a tenant from breaking it early. There should be a clear clause that states any fees that will result from an early lease break or any other policies you have in place. If you decide to allow certain situations like the examples given above, then specify that tenants are required to give 60-days notice before moving out, no matter the scenario.
Navigating Vacancy After a Lease Break
As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to fill the vacancy after a tenant has moved out quickly. With that, we have some tips to make this transition a bit easier for you.
Subletting allows the tenant to find a new tenant to fulfill their lease requirements without having to pay additional fees. If considering subletting, be sure that you are screening any incoming tenant per your company’s approval guidelines.
As soon as the tenant signs the lease-break addendum, you need to start marketing the unit right away. Marketing right away can help get it re-leased before a long sitting vacancy occurs.
Your lease-break clause should include language that allows you to begin marketing and showings as soon as notice is received. This will help to minimize vacancy and mitigate turnover costs.
Hire a Property Manager:
Finally, if you need comprehensive guidance on how to handle an early termination or filling a vacancy, a Montgomery County Property Management Company is your best bet! An experienced property manager will assist with navigating the legal aspects of the early termination and provide a comprehensive marketing plan to fill your rental property quickly.
It’s imperative to know the laws, procedures, and ins-and-outs of lease breaks in Montgomery County. Bay Property Management Group Montgomery County has experienced property managers to provide you with full-service property management to take the stress out of being a landlord!