What should a landlord do when a tenant breaks theira lease and refuses to pay the last month rent?

UPDATED: Aug 5, 2011

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What should a landlord do when a tenant breaks theira lease and refuses to pay the last month rent?

My tenant is braking the 1 year residential lease agreement and she does not want to pay the last month of rent.

Asked on August 5, 2011 Arizona


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You have three options, bearing in mind that the tenant has no right to simply break her lease--that is, if she does, she is still liable for the last month of rent.

1) If you have a security deposit, you can take the last month rent out of it; the deposit is there to pay unpaid rent at the end of the tenancy, as well as to pay for repairs. Of course, if there are repairs to do, too, the deposit may not be large enough to fund repairs and pay the rent.

2) You may sue her for the rent, including suing in small claims court, where you do not need an attorney.

3) And, of course, depending on how much is owed, the best course could be to do nothing and let the last month go--especially if you have to use the deposit for repairs, anyway. (i.e. it may not be worth you time to sue, even in small claims court.)

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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