Tenant Doesn’t Want to Renew Lease: Now What?

by Chris on February 13, 2012

Q:  If a tenant doesn’t want to renew the lease for the following year, how long of a time is the notice they have to give me so that I can start looking for a new tenant?- TVS Landlord

While these lease termination rules vary from one location to another, it is likely that the tenant does not have to give you notice that they are moving out at the end of the lease term.  Rather, it is up to you to find out if they want to renew.

With a fixed-term lease, the tenant will need to move by the end of the last day on the lease.  If they do not move out, you will have to evict them.

Alternatively, if you continue to accept rent payments, the tenancy likely converts to a month-to-month,  and will continue until one of you gives notice.

Even though your lease may provide a termination date, you do not want to leave this transition to chance. 

By contacting each tenant about sixty days or so before the lease ends, you have the best chance for retaining good tenants. This provides enough time to  lock in to a new lease term before a tenant starts hunting around for another place to live.

On the other hand, if the tenant does not want to renew, you must take charge and oversee the transition. What if the current tenant does not move out as expected, and you have offered a lease to a new tenant?  What if the current tenant damaged the unit and it won’t be repaired in time for the new lease?

If your tenant will not be renewing the lease for another term, be sure to follow these steps:

Make sure the tenant signs a document stating they are not planning to renew.   Even if the tenant reneges on the statement later, the landlord can demonstrate they believed the tenant was vacating.

Conduct an inspection and discuss with the current tenant if anything will need to be restored before they move out. It is important to find out if the property will require maintenance before a new tenant can move in. Schedule a specific date and time for the final walk-through.

Ask the exiting tenant to be present at the final walk-through.  Complete a final inspection form, and follow any rules regarding move out condition reports.  Make sure you get the keys, and a forwarding address.

While it’s important to find a new tenant as soon as possible, showing the property while it’s still occupied can be tricky.  You likely have to provide notice to the current tenant a day or so before you enter the property.  Even if you have the legal right to show an occupied property, if the current tenant is unhappy, that can make your showings quite stressful.  This process will be much easier if you can gain the current tenant’s cooperation. 

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Deanna November 10, 2013 at 9:06 pm

I just bought a house & im trying to have tenants sign a month to month lease or move out but they don’t want to sign or move out. I have changed locks on house could I just lock them out since they dont want to sign & no contract. What can I do

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: