Tenants Didn’t Move Out: Now What?

by Chris on August 12, 2013

Q: My tenants gave me a 30-day notice. I promised the property to new renters. The old tenants want to stay longer because their new place is not ready yet. What steps should I take legally? TVS Landlord

Generally, if a tenant fails to provide proper notice to end a lease, or doesn’t move on the last day of the tenancy, the tenant may have to compensate the landlord for the over-holding.

tenant screeningThat may include a pro-rated amount of rent and any additional costs the landlord may incur for that period, including the new tenants’ moving and storage costs.

You will have to seek dispute resolution to determine if these rules apply in your case. It’s likely that if your former tenants are ordered to reimburse you, at the same time, you will have to reimburse the new tenants for their losses.

Tenants typically do not have to provide notice to terminate the tenancy if they are moving out at the end of the lease term. They would if the lease provided for an automatic renewal, had converted to a month-to-month, or if you had agreed to an early termination. The dispute resolution officer will have to decide if the lease was, in fact, terminated.

Other factors may come into play, including the language in the lease agreement. For instance, the lease may provide for a hold-over option should the tenant choose not to renew for an entire term. Any subsequent discussions over the termination date could affect the outcome.

Although it’s frustrating to have to wait for a dispute resolution hearing, one thing you cannot do is intimidate the current tenants or take steps to try to drive them out. You can explain your position, but not take drastic steps like removing possessions or changing the locks. You will need to wait for an order to vacate if they don’t leave voluntarily.

Be certain to document the entire process so you can prove your case.

Landlords can minimize the likelihood of this difficult situation by staying in communication with exiting tenants. Also, make sure there is no room for confusion as to the move-out date.  Complete a notice of intention for the tenant to sign.  Avoid lease provisions that are ambiguous with respect to the term.

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.

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