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LandlordTenantAnswer, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 27555
Experience:  Landlord-Tenant Disputes, Leases, Evictions, Foreclosures.
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My husband and I are landlords. We recently rented a house

Customer Question

My husband and I are landlords. We recently rented a house to someone with the promotion "First month is rent free with paid security deposit." She paid the security deposit and signed a lease that requires a 30 day notice or the tenant forfeits the security deposit. Now, 3 days later she says she changed her mind, doesn't want to move in, and wants her deposit back. I told her that she cannot have her deposit back since she didn't give a 30 day notice. Then she said "Oh ok, then this is my 30 day notice, I'll be out in a month." She says she still has no intention of moving in, but is only giving us the notice so she can get her deposit back. Basically, the house will be hers for the next month, so we can't rent it to anybody else even though she isn't living there, then after a month, we pay her $500. So, we completely lose out on a month's rent because she found a loophole in our promotion. Here is my question... Is there anything we can do? Do we have the right to say we cannot let the house sit empty for a month because of a liability issue (there is a lot of vandalism in this area)? Can we just hold her to what she originally said...That she doesn't want the house, won't be moving in, and then we can try to get it rented to someone else? Or do we have to wait for a month, give her her money back, then lose out on a month's rent?
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  LandlordTenantAnswer replied 10 months ago.

Hi! I will be the professional that will be helping you today. I look forward to providing you with information to help with your question and concern

Expert:  LandlordTenantAnswer replied 10 months ago.

Just to be clear, she signed a year lease but you allow a tenant to simply break the lease with a 30 day notice? In addition, does the lease or the promotion mention that you need to stay the full year/term of the lease, for the free month?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
It is a month to month lease and only requires a 30 day notice to move out. And the lease does not say how long they need to stay for the free month. I realize now that we should have put that stipulation in the lease. So now, I think the only possible argument I have is either: 1. Whether she can rightfully tell us that she doesn't want the house, then change her story just to get her deposit back. 2. Whether we have to let the house sit vacant for a month.
Expert:  LandlordTenantAnswer replied 10 months ago.

Thank you for the reply. In a situation like this, where the lease is month to month, you do take a chance that the tenant does something like this and if they paid the deposit, which was a condition to the free month and paid the deposit and now do not want to take possession, they could cancel and terminate the lease as long as they gave the 30 day notice prior the start date. The free month should have been given only AFTER X amount of months, not at the start but at this time, it is best to just tell her she can break the lease and walk away and do not need to move in, so you can rent it to someone else and it does not need to sit idle. Since she is not moving in, there is no need for the 30 days if you can not make any money from it.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
just to be clear, we do have to refund the deposit?
Expert:  LandlordTenantAnswer replied 10 months ago.

Based upon what you shared, Yes. I say this because there were no damages suffered. You provided a free months rent once the security deposit was paid and it was applied to the first month and the tenant gave the 30 day notice prior to the lease starting, so they terminated it before the second month. As such, there appears to be no basis for the claim. based upon what you shared above. If you are going to hold them to the 30 days, the deposit would need to be refunded after but if you just want her to leave, you can offer to refund it if she simply vacates.

Expert:  LandlordTenantAnswer replied 10 months ago.

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Expert:  LandlordTenantAnswer replied 10 months ago.

I just wanted to follow up and see if you had any other questions or needed me to clarify something. I am here to help, so please let me know. Thanks!

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