There are plenty of potential stress points when it comes to being a private landlord. However, the good thing is that many of them are eliminated, or at least put into abeyance, when you have a tenancy agreement in place, duly signed by both parties, and a tenant signed up for at least a year.
The last thing you will want to hear, therefore, is that the tenant wants to break the agreement and move out after only a few months. But you can’t do that, you will probably be screaming, at least in your head. And with a standard 12 month agreement, you would probably be absolutely right. The question is, what to do about it.
If we are talking about a bad tenant who has a habit of making trouble, you will probably be happy enough to terminate the agreement and bid them farewell, so it becomes a moot point. If it is a good tenant, who takes care of the place, is reasonable, and always pays on time, then they are unlikely to ask to break the agreement without a very good reason.
In this situation, good reasons come in all shapes and sizes. Changes in relationship or employment status are common, or perhaps they are facing the fact that they outreached themselves initially and simply can’t afford it. As a landlord, the first thing to do with any problem your tenants raise is to hear them out and see the situation from their side.
To put it in the simplest terms, you have three choices. You can either agree to let them go, you can tell them they are locked into an agreement and must continue to pay the rent till the period expires, or you can see if you can reach a compromise.
Clearly, the second option is unattractive. Insisting that a tenant stays in your property when he or she doesn’t want to is a sure fire recipe for disaster. If you are difficult with them, they will be difficult with you. Expect maintenance costs to escalate and rent payments to be harder to collect. Life will become miserable for all concerned.
If there is a financial reason for them wanting to break the agreement, you could consider offering a reduction or a payment holiday. It really depends on whether their problem is of a temporary or permanent nature, and on just how keen you are to keep them as a tenant.
Oftentimes, however, the simplest solution all round is to let them go. If you are fair with them, they will be the same with you, meaning they will almost certainly be cooperative when it comes to allowing potential new tenants to view and so on.
If tenants are going to be allowed to come and go as they wish, why put an end point in the contract? Like many clauses, it is one that guides behaviour. In other words, with a fixed term stipulated, it reduces the likelihood of tenants being here today and gone tomorrow. However, in the event that circumstances change, it seldom works out well for anyone to try and test those clauses out in court if you can possibly avoid it.
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