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Tenant trying to exit lease early - Landlord Forum thread 358834

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Tenant trying to exit lease early by Amy on December 19, 2018 @03:06

Current tenant just moved into basement apartment and is trying to get out of the lease based on claims of it being inhabitable. Backstory: Previous tenant was released from her lease early upon the signing of a suitable replacement tenant. The new tenant inspected the apartment prior to signing the lease and we agreed that the floors in the main area would be replaced. Two weeks were allotted between renters. I allowed the new tenant to help pick the flooring (I like happy tenants). She refused my suggestion of stained and polished concrete (it's a well lit basement apartment) because she thinks its cold and hard. So she chose tile :-| We agreed on a wood look tile. I began the flooring project as planned and a week into the project it was apparent that it would take longer. The concrete needed to be repaired and watersealed and the tile was proving to be difficult to install d/t the occasional uneven place in the floor. I let her know that the main area (kitchen/living) would not be ready by the 1st but that I would provide a place for her in the main house. She agreed to this accommodation. Not only this but she was given permission to move in a day early d/t her not considering that her old lease ended on the 30th and she had no where to put her things. She moved her belonging into the apartment proper on the 30th of Nov using the bedroom as a storage area. She was given full access and privilege to the main house upstairs (my home) and a locked bedroom to use. The apt bathroom and bedroom is fully usable but she has opted to use my upstairs bathroom during the flooring repair. She never leaves the bedroom and is never seen in the house. She has maybe two items in the refrigerator. Now, about two weeks into Dec I am nearly done putting in this impossible tile and she is claiming bedbugs in my spare bedroom. The room was stripped clean before she moved in and furnished with a new hypoallergic mattress cover and clean sheets were provided. When I told her I wouldn't release her from the lease based on bedbugs she claimed that the apartment was never provided to her to use (habitably) and that she was getting an attorney and demanding her deposit back. I told her that I was required to provide her lodging during repairs and that if there were any 'bugs' I had a right to attempt to remediate but that didn't terminate her lease responsibilities. She has kept a cat (w/permission) in the room with also. I have a dog and a cat that are restricted to an area downstairs. I verbally gave her the option of giving notice and requesting an early release from the lease with the same provisions as the last tenant (which is not an option in our lease agreement). She refused to wait for a new leasee. She is claiming she never moved into the unit. It can take a couple of months to find a suitable tenant here. Am I missing anything here? I don't want her as a tenant anymore but I'm not returning her deposit or last month's rent until she satisfies my lease requirements. I am a nurse working 60 hour weeks and I need the rental income. I have contingency money (for repairs) but I can't keep flipping tenants like this.
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Re: Tenant trying to exit lease early by Garry on December 19, 2018 @08:06 [ Reply ]
It does not matter how many hours you work each week, how much you need the income, or how long it takes to find a good tenant. This is NOT about YOU. You are a LANDLORD, and if you are trying to rent an apartment, you are a BUSINESS! You have a customer, called a TENANT, and you need to satisfy your customer. You should NEVER rent a place out, until it is TOTALLY ready to move into. ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU NEED/WANT TO DO A MAJOR RENOVATION! Right now, you have a T that wants to move, AND you say you don't want her as a T anymore. SO DON'T FIGHT HER! Make it easy on YOURSELF. Let her move out ASAP, give her back her deposit, and FINISH ALL renovations while the place is vacant. THEN rent out a bright, shiny new place. If she wants any more in money, she can "try" to sue you in court. DO NOT make this "molehill" into a "mountain". It's not worth YOUR aggravation.
Re: Tenant trying to exit lease early by AnonymousFL on December 19, 2018 @13:20 [ Reply ]
@Gary: There is no need for caps. You can emphasize your points without 'shouting'. Also, she is looking for advise, not a critique on her ability as a landlord.

@Amy: Right now you have a bit of a messy situation and an unhappy tenant. Sometimes you may want to consider things beyond the scope of whether a tenant is liable or responsible. You may want to ask yourself a few questions:
- Can you convert this situation into a reasonable tenant/landlord relationship? Having an unhappy or angry tenant for the duration of a lease can lead to many other problems.
- How likely is it that you can rent the place again if you release her from the lease? You might consider offering to break the least with a buyout (paying equivalent to 1 or 2 months rent to end the lease).
- Have an exterminator inspect the house to assess the 'bedbug' situation. Tell her if he determines that she is the source, she pays for the call. Otherwise, you do. Either way, you do want to get rid of them.

Based on what you have given us, I don't think that your tenant has much ground to stand on. Since much of what you have done is verbal, it is a bit of a he-said she-said, but since agreed to accommodations while the bedroom was being finished, you are more likely to be believed by a judge (if it comes to that). Also, she does have to give you a reasonable amount of time to remedy the bug situation and it does not sound like she has done that.

Regardless of what you do, as you finish the remodel make your decisions on what is best for your rental. While it is nice to try and cater to your tenant, future potential tenants may very well be turned off by the decor. It is generally best to go with lighter earth tone finishes that are easy to maintain.

I wish you the best of luck.

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