What to do if my tenant is breaking their 1 year lease?

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What to do if my tenant is breaking their 1 year lease?

The tenant is moving out of state for job relocation and is breaking the contract; more than 6 months until the contract is due. I collected 2 months rent due to very bad credit. Do I need to return the deposit?

Asked on May 6, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

When the tenant breaks the lease without good legal cause (such as the rental premises not being inhabitable), he is committing breach of contract (since that's what a lease is--a contract). A job relocaton is not good cause from a legal perspective; it might be the right thing for the tenant, but it does not legally justify the termination of the lease and leaves the tenant liable for the breach.

The tenant is responsible for the full remaining balance of the lease; so, if there are 6 months left on the lease term, the tenant is responsible for 6 months rent. The landlord may apply the security deposit against that obligation, so you would not have to return the deposit in this case, but could use it to offset the remaining rent owed to you. You could then sue the tenant, including potentially in small claims court, for the remaining 4 months after applying the 2 months deposit to the 6 months balance.


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