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Tip 157:  Give Them a Break 

You may someday come across a tenant who asks to break the lease because they are the victim of domestic violence, sexual violence or stalking.

While it is tempting to want to convince the victim to stay and honor the lease, it is highly likely that your state laws require you to allow your tenant to break the lease if they feel they need to flee for their safety.

More than a dozen states specifically require the landlord to allow the victim tenant to break the lease without consequences for future rent, while many of the remaining states have some other form of protection, including laws allowing the victim to force the perpetrator out of the rental home, which could materially alter the terms of the lease.  Landlords generally have the right to evict the offending tenant, but not the victim tenant.

It is likely that the victim must provide the landlord with a copy of either a restraining order or a police report detailing the existence of the abuse.

In most instances, the victim also must provide a certain period of notice, ranging from 14 to 30 days, depending on the state.  During that time, the tenant still may be responsible for the rent, but cannot be pursued for future rent — which means future rent cannot be deducted from the deposit.

See last week’s Landlord Quick Tip.

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