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4 Unique Reasons That Justify Termination Of Tenancy
The 3 most common circumstances that result in the end of a tenancy is:
- Expiration of lease
- Mutual agreement to terminate contract
However, just because these are the most common reasons for tenancies to end does not mean that you would never run into unique situations.
The following circumstances can leave you scratching your head. But we’ve included some tips on what you can do in the even that you run into them.
1) Death of sole tenant
Let’s not talk about crime and murders.
When someone dies of natural causes, it is safe to assume that it usually happens to the elderly. And seniors often don’t live alone in a rented house.
They are often accompanied by family members under the same roof. Or their children would check them into an elderly care facility.
But there are seniors who prefer to live alone.
Should a sole tenant of yours pass away during the course of a lease, you could be lost regarding what to do as a landlord.
The first course of action is to attempt to contact any family members of the tenant.
If you are unable to identify any of them, look through the initial tenant application form to find emergency contacts that the tenant has listed down.
If your search comes to nought, then the public fiduciary agencies might be your last hope.
Keep in mind that upon death of a sole tenant, that the lease does not terminate automatically.
In fact, the estate of the deceased still holds the responsibility for the tenant’s obligations.
While the landlord can legitimately start to prospect for new tenants for the now-vacant house, the deceased tenant’s personal property and belongings should not be removed unless a probate court authorizes it.
Family members might make verbal instructions for what to do with the personal belongings left behind. This can leave you with a dilemma about whether to adhere to their requests.
However, as a landlord trying to mitigate this extraordinary issue properly, it is best to only take action when there is a probate court order.
Several people might be rightfully entitled to the tenant’s belongings. They usually are (but not limited to) the following:
- Executor of the tenant’s estate
- Representative appointed by probate court
In the case where the deceased tenant has no formal need for probate proceedings, a heir might be entitled to the belongings as long as a valid death certificate and will is produced.
Whenever a landlord is in doubt about who is entitled to what, it is best to consult with an attorney because a rightful heir could legitimately sue the landlord when personal property is inappropriately released.
Remember that it was mentioned earlier that the estate of the deceased tenant will inherit lease obligations?
This means that a landlord can make a claim against the deceased estate for things like unpaid rental and costs of damages to the property.
Always seek the expertise of an attorney familiar with real estate legislation before starting any legal proceedings.
2) Inhabitable dwelling due to damage
If substantial damage to a house occurs which is not the fault of the tenant and leaves it inhabitable, then the tenant has the right to terminate the lease citing constructive eviction.
Constructive eviction basically refers to the house being so badly damaged, that it is unfit for housing tenants. Leaving the tenant no choice but to relocate.
Such damage is most often a result of fire.
The important point to note is that if it is proven with evidence that a fire was caused by the tenant, then the tenant will not hold the power to terminate the lease.
To evoke constructive eviction, the tenant has to submit a written notice to the landlord indicating the inhabitable conditions of the house and include the date in which he would move.
The landlord will then have the opportunity to contest the allegations if he disagrees.
3) Active duty military personnel
Under a federal law known as the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, active duty military personnel might be able to terminate a lease whether you like it or not.
This law allows them to be release from their lease obligations without the landlord’s consent provided they are transferred to another location during the course of the tenancy.
Proper documentation of such transfers are required to invoke this privilege of military personnel.
Property abandonment don’t just happen to homeowners who have their homes foreclosed. It can happen to tenants too.
It is actually not that uncommon too.
When this happens, landlords should not simply take possession or throw away the tenant’s belongings.
It does not belong to them to begin with.
The first thing to do is to send a Notice of Abandonment by certified mail to the tenant.
Then look up local state laws regarding the disposition of abandoned personal property. This will provide the landlord with rules and guidelines about what action can be taken… and how they should be taken.
As the landlord is not obligated to keep the personal property left behind, a tenant will have to contact the landlord as soon as possible should he or she desire to retrieve something.
When the statutory period of time to hold onto the personal property has passed, the landlord with have to authority to discard or sell the items to recover money that is owed by the tenant.
Finally, remember to conduct move out inspections whenever possible.