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AlanM
AlanM, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
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Experience:  Over 20 years of Experience in all areas of Real Estate and Mortgage Lending/Borrowing
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Landlords right to terminate a one year lease without cause.

Customer Question

I own a single family home in Phoenix, AZ. The home is currently being leased-out for one year. I hired a property manager to find a tenant, negotiate the terms of the lease, and collect the monthly rents. I currently live in Rockville, but I would like to move back to Phoenix. The term of the lease does not expire until 6/30/09. However, I would to terminate the lease in Jan/Feb 2009. May I terminate the lease early? If so, how much notice would I need to give the tenant? I have a management agreement with the property manager that allows me to terminate with 30 days notice.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  AlanM replied 6 years ago.

if the lease has a clause that allows early termintion then you can do so. if there is no such clause in the lease then, no, you would not be able to terminate early. the fact that you have a termination clause with the management agent does not by itself give you such a clause with your tenant.

if you have the clause that allows you to terminate the lease early, you would need to follow the instructions stated there. it would entail a required period of notice etc.

good luck.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Why doesn't AZ Landlord Tenant Act even address this issue? This issue is clearly defined in most other states.
Expert:  AlanM replied 6 years ago.
what do u mean? how is it addressed elsewhere?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I have reviewed landlord tenant laws in several states including Maryland and Illinois. The landlord has the right to terminate a lease in the aforementioned state with proper notice. The AZ Landlord Tenant Acts states that a landlord can terminate a month-to-month lease with a 30 day notice. It does not address that landlord's right to terminate an annual lease (without cause) at all. The point I am laboring to make - is that the AZ Landlord Tenant Act should state whether I Can OR CANNOT terminate an annual lease - without cause. It should be clearly. If you review that act - you will see that it is not stated at all. I need clarity.
Expert:  AlanM replied 6 years ago.

if there is nothing that states that you can terminate a lease then you clearly can not. it is a contract and stays in effect for its term unless something allows it to be terminated. i will take a look at MD and IL to see what you are referring to because i am a bit surprised if that is the case. after all, if it is, what protection at any time is there for a tenant. are you sure you are not referring to a month to month situation?

either way, as stated, a lease is in effect for its full term unless clear language allows it to be terminated.

 

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
So what you are saying - is that because it is not stated I should assume the answer is NO. I should not have to assume anything. It should be clearly stated. By way, what recourse does a tenant have should I decide to do so anyway? The landlord's recourse when a tenant breaks a lease is clearly stated. As you stated earlier, the tenant has rights. So what are they when a landlord breaks a lease in AZ? Of course, I would give notice.
Expert:  AlanM replied 6 years ago.

you do not assume anything. to the contrary. you draw a lease that states the tenant can occupay the premises for a year. there is and should be no assumption that, without an express right otherwise, you can terminate that and take over. as a matter of fact, the only assumption that would be made is that it should be different and that you would have a right to throw him out. but, as you stated, there is no room for assumption. in that regard, it is clearly stated. a lease gives rights to possession for the period of time expressed in the lease. that is clear.

as far as recourse, firstly, when you give notice the tenant need not vacate. if the tenant voluntarily vacates and essentially agrees to allow the lease to be terminated, you are fine. however, if you give notice and then , without court order and eviction notice, lock the tenant out, not only would you be liable for any costs that the tenant may incur in the process but you would have to allow the tenant to reoccupy the premises. Rule of thumb in ALL jurisdictions: DON'T TAKE MATTERS IN YOUR OWN HANDS AND ABSOLUTELY DO NOT LOCK A TENANT OUT.

 

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Now who is ASSUMING? I never stated that I would evict the tenant.
I simply asked if the lease was terminated w/notice - what recourse would the tenant have? While I appreciate your response, I think you are really missing the point of my emails. I mentioned in an earlier email that the AZ Landlord Tenant Act states what recourse a landlord has when a tenant breaks a lease, however, it does not state what happens if the landlord breaks the lease. The reason why I sought your advice is because it is not clearly stated. I do not have the luxury of a law degree and I wanted to know my options. It would be ridiculous to ASSUME that I did not have any options.

I feel that you have crossed the line for ASSUMING the worst. At this point, I can safely ASSUME that you have NOT reviewed the AZ Landlord Tenant Act.
Expert:  AlanM replied 6 years ago.

time out.

you are stating that you are simply asking if the lease terminates with notice but that you are not contemplating eviction. the answer, as i stated, is that it does not terminate because it is effective for its term. further, it is not overly presumptive for me to assume that a question pertaining to a landlord breach would not include the question of what happens if an eviction follows. otherwise, what precisely is going on?

further, if the lease terminates with the notice and the landlord does not immediately evict, in essence, the same result can apply, just with one more step. that is, the landlord would then be able to either immmediately send a notice of eviciton to the extent that the lease is terminated and the tenant has not vacated; or the landlord could immediately send a notice of termination of the then-in-effect month to month lease and when the tenant does not leave, serve notice of eviction. either way, it makes no sense because if the lease is terminated the next step is always to serve a notice of eviction.

further to the above, there is a fundamental difference in the application of recourse when either a tenant or landlord breaks a lease. when a tenant does, landlord can go after the tenant for monetary damages but can not force the tenant to move back in. when the landlord breaches the lease by illegally evicting a tenant, the recourse is that the tenant can gain re-entry and might be entitled to monetary damages. in this instance, the tenant's place of residence has been removed and the necessary recourse is diffreent than simply monetary.

as far as your statement that the AZ code does not state what happens when a landlord breaks a lease, every code does as they state clearly that any eviction can only be done through the courts. to assume that we are not talking about an eviciton but the rights to simply give notice to terminate a lease during its term when there are no defaults by the tenant is certainly a stretch and would essentially remove the entire benefits of a written lease as far as a tenant is concerned. it would basically mean that all leases are de facto month to month leases.

i am sorry if you are viewing this entire scenario through a different lens than i am but a contract is effective until its term unless provisions therein allow for its earlier termination.

 

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Again, you are missing the point. I NEVER stated that I would evict the tenant. Whether you believe that or not, I do not care!!

Although you have been very clear that terminating the lease before the end of the term is not an option, my lease agreement as well as the AZ Landlord Tenant Act is NOT clear - which why I sought you advice. Are you starting to catch on now? There is nothing my lease agreement nor the AZ Code stated that states the penalties you describe (in an earlier email) when the landlord terminates the lease before the term. Obviously, now that I know it's not option - I will not pursue that route. I resent about your remarks regarding my intentions.

Let's try this again. My lease agreement as well as the AZ Code were not clear. I sought your advice. You have been very clear. End of story. Get it.
Expert:  AlanM replied 6 years ago.

thank you. my apologies if you took any of my presumptions the wrong way.

i am happy we have now cleared this up and wish you the best of luck.

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