Most Grand Rapids Property Management Companies, including Qwest Property Management, and other local landlords use leases which are written for fixed terms, usually 12 months. During these fixed terms, the tenant has agreed to remain in the property and pay rent through a certain date, and the landlord is obligated and required to allow the tenant to remain in the property for that period of time, as well. An exception to this, for example, would be a month-to-month lease which can typically be terminated by either party with a 30 day notice. At this time however, Qwest Property Management does not offer short-term housing options less than 12 months.
So what happens if certain life circumstances have you either needing or wanting to break your lease early?
Maybe you just received an amazing new job offer in another city which would require you to relocate. Perhaps you’re experiencing a financial hardship due to a job loss. Sometimes tenants divorce and neither can afford the rent alone, so both have to move. Then there are times when tenants are under no financial duress but elect to buy a new home, and simply factor the early termination costs into the overall financial decision to buy the new home.
There are a number of life circumstances that can cause one of our resident’s to contact us and ask, “What happens if I can’t finish my lease term?”
At Qwest Property Management, we understand that life circumstances happen to everyone and we want to help facilitate a win-win solution for our resident’s and our clients who own the properties we manage. This is why we offer our resident’s a favorable early termination option within their lease.
A resident’s status with regard to early termination is covered under Paragraph 24 and 25 within our lease.
Paragraph 24 covers Default, whereby a tenant simply moves out and stops paying rent, regardless of the reason why. We refer to this as a “skip” and it results in legal action against the tenant, damage to the tenant’s credit report, damaged rental history and ultimately their rental account will be turned over to collections. We will enforce the terms of the lease to the extent that the law allows. In other words, the worst financial and credit consequences possible are realized in this situation for the resident.
As an alternative, Paragraph 25 covers the Early Termination option, which provides a graceful exit from the lease while fulfilling the terms of the lease, without damaging your credit and rental history. Of course, most of our residents want to avoid damaged credit and rental history, and do not want their rental account being turned over to a collection agency to deal with. This is why the majority of our resident’s who do decide to move prior to the lease expiration will exercise this early termination option and remain in compliance with the lease. Essentially, it involves locating a replacement tenant to take over the occupancy of the property and allows the current resident to leave on good terms. Below, I will outline how this works. In a nut shell, when you want to move early and wish to do so in a way that follows the lease agreement and avoids negative consequences, all of the costs of your decision to terminate early must be absorbed and paid by you, not the property owner.
This is a simple concept for most to understand. The owner of your rental has no obligation or desire to subsidize your moving costs by absorbing lost rent and other turnover expenses created by your early departure, so all of the financial consequences of your decision to leave early belong to you. The following steps must happen if you are a tenant with Qwest Property Management:
- You must provide us with a written notice of your intent to exercise the early termination option, per the lease.
- You must be in good standings with no unpaid rental amounts due on your account.
- You must execute the early termination addendum to the lease, and will include your payment of the re-letting fee which is equal to one month’s rent.
- You must be 100% moved out of the property before Qwest Property Management will engage in marketing the property for rent.
- You must continue to pay rent each month on the first, until a replacement tenant is found and starts paying rent.
- You must continue to pay the utilities after vacating, until a new tenant moves in.
- You must arrange for lawn service and/or snow removal after you vacate, until a new tenant moves in.
- All other terms and conditions of your lease agreement must continue to be met.
That’s a simplified summary, but overall, that is what is required. It’s not negotiable. So, when a resident will argue or want to do it a different way (which always involves shifting costs and risk away from the resident and to the owner), we simply don’t allow it. And, if the tenant still moves early, they are now in Default and will suffer the future financial consequences. Once the above steps are accomplished, you leave with good rental history, receive your deposit refund (the deposit disposition is the same as what is outlined in your lease and early termination does not change this procedure), and have fulfilled your lease obligations on good terms. You haven’t “broken” your lease, but instead satisfied the requirements of the Early Termination clause, per the lease.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Can I wait until you find the replacement tenant before I move?
A: No. We won’t initiate any efforts to locate a replacement tenant until you have executed the early termination addendum, paid the re-letting fee and are 100% moved out of the property. Understand that if we are marketing a property for rent, we need to provide prospective tenants with a definitive availability date. And, until you are out of the house, a promise to move as soon as we find a replacement tenant is not an acceptable arrangement. So, your status is either one of 100% staying in the home, or 100% leaving. There is no “maybe” or in between status that can be accommodated. We can’t market a property without the property being vacant.
Q: I don’t want to pay the re-letting fee. Do I really have to, or can I pay it later with my security deposit?
A: You already agreed to pay it when you signed your lease. You are simply keeping an agreement you already made. It must be paid up front, as agreed in the lease. If not, you are in Default of the lease. The security deposit is completely unrelated to this matter and is to only be used for potential damage claims after the lease ends, or to be refunded after the lease ends.
Q: If I know someone who wants to rent the property, can I refer them to you?
A: Yes, of course. They must submit an application and qualify the same as any other resident. However, you may not “market” the house though once we begin our marketing efforts. You can tell your friends and co-workers about it and try to help find a tenant, but you can’t, for example, put your own sign in the yard or post online ads, etc. If you would like to refer a possible new resident to us, please email us their name, phone number and email address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Why should I have to keep paying rent after I move out?
A: That’s the agreement you made when you signed the lease. Failure to pay rent will represent a default of the lease. Continuing to pay rent keeps you in compliance with your lease obligations and in good standing, which is the goal of the Early Termination clause.
Q: How long will it take to find a new tenant?
A: We normally locate a new tenant within 30 days, sometimes sooner. But, it could also take longer depending on the time of year, market conditions, how well the home shows, and other variables.
Q: What if I only have 2 months remaining on my lease? Can I avoid the Early Termination fees?
A: Yes. If you have less than 3 months remaining on your lease, you’re probably better off finishing your lease or paying out your remaining rent in full rather than terminating early. When a tenant pays the final month of the lease term and also notifies us in writing they will be departing by a date sooner than the last day of the lease, we will move to market the property as available on the earlier date. You will still have to maintain utilities and yard care/snow removal, per your lease agreement, through the last day of your lease. You will also need to be 100% out of the house. But, if a new tenant is located and moves in prior to the end of your lese term, you’ll receive a rent rebate and will have successfully completed your lease term without having to pay the re-letting fee. If you have more than 3 months remaining on your lease term, you’re probably better off paying the reletting fee and letting us find a replacement tenant.