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Lease Expiration Questions

Lease expiration means the expiry of a lease between a tenant and a landlord. One requirement that all leases need to have is the duration of the lease needs to be specified. Therefore, once the lease expires, the tenant has to vacate the premises unless he/she comes to a new arrangement with the landlord. Certain leases have an automatic renewal clause while many others have option clauses that give tenants the option to renew the lease before it expires.

Listed below are a few questions answered by real estate lawyers on lease expiration related issues.

My lease is coming up for expiration and I don’t want to renew it. What is the legal way to handle this by being fair to my tenant?

If your tenant has been living in your property for over a year, you would need to give them at least 60 days notice. If it has been less than a year, 30 days’ notice should suffice. However, check your lease agreement and if it says 60 or 90 days, ensure you honor that.

You don’t need to give them a reason for terminating the lease in the notice. The notice can be delivered via certified mail, can be hand delivered to the tenant, or can be posted in a conspicuous spot (on their door) and a second copy mailed to their address.

I vacated a rented premises at-will one month prior to lease expiration. I didn’t pay the last month’s rent. Would this be enough to meet "eviction" criteria?

An eviction means getting kicked out of a property. If a tenant leaves the premises before notice is given to them and has been legally evicted, then it is simply termed as abandonment and not an eviction. An eviction is seen as a legal proceeding and certain procedures need to be followed for this to happen. It would involve a notice being sent to the tenant, a complaint being filed, a hearing being requested, and finally an eviction taking place.

I am renting a house and am in the second year of a two-year lease. I now want to move out and want to know how I can break a lease prior to its expiration.

You would need to review your lease to see if there is any way out. You could also negotiate the release from the rest of your lease by speaking with your landlord. The terms of your lease will control your rights and liabilities so unless you can negotiate your release, you would be legally bound to stay till it expires.

I live in Texas and want to know if I can break my lease before its expiration date. Is this possible?

Under Texas law, breaking a lease is not easy. Legal grounds for this are limited and include things like being locked out of the property by the landlord, complete destruction of the property, or all the utilities being shut off by the landlord. If you don’t have legal grounds for breaking your lease, you will forfeit your security deposit and your landlord can sue you for lost rent. However, your landlord is also legally obliged to try and re-rent the apartment quickly and, once the property is rented again, your liability for rent should cease. These problems can possibly be avoided if you find a new tenant who is willing to take over your lease. Then, you may be able to walk away owing nothing.

One of the last remedies to get a tenant to leave after his/her lease expires is to seek eviction. As a landlord would need to first check and see if the tenant has paid you rent after the lease expired. If you have accepted the rent, the tenant becomes a month-to-month tenant and you have to give the tenant a 30-day termination notice to end the tenancy. In case you haven’t accepted rent after the lease expired, you can go ahead and file the eviction without advance notice.
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