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by Wallace Gibson, CPM, GRI

landlord helpHandling early move-outs from fixed term leases is a NEW wrinkle in the rental and landlord game.

When tenants sign a lease I often don’t think they realize that they are bound by the terms of that lease agreement, including paying the rent and maintaining the property.

When tenants on leases are required to move for job, health or education, I’ve stitched in several options to their lease agreement.  They can:

1. Advertise, show and secure qualified applicant(s) and provide me with executed application forms with appropriate credit check fees(s) of $25 per applicant. I will then qualify and prepare the documents/new lease. There is a $400 fee for this lease documentation which should accompany their applications and credit check fees. OR, they may…

2. Authorize me in writing to advertise and show the property for rent. The fee for this service is one-half of one months rent– a minimum of $600, and I will qualify and prepare the documents and new lease. OR, they may…

3. Pay 2 FULL months rent–usually $2,000+, and I will retain the monies you have already paid and your security deposit. In order for this option to be utilized, I must know the exact move-out date so that utility service is not interrupted.

If they are being moved by a new employer, the last option is often elected and paid by their new employer in their relocation packet and I advise residents to double check on this option.

Sometimes this puts the lease term out of sequence with our HEAVY rental season of June, July and August; however, I can often re-lease the property for MORE rent which makes my client/property owners very happy!

Wallace Gibson, CPM, GRI, is the owner/broker of Gibson Management Group, Ltd., a full-service property management company offering 45 years of professional property management services for investment property owners in Central Virginia“Charlottesville, Fluvanna, Louisa and Greene counties. Her firms website is and she blogs at

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  • Gary Carlson

    This would be some great advice if landlords were actually “in charge”. Unfortunately, few tenants are going to meet these requirements.

    On the contrary, let’s hope that they just don’t leave early without paying the rent and with all the appliances in the back of the truck. Then, after a few weeks of no contact, we finally gain access to the unit (via our locksmith) and assess all the damage that’s been done.

  • Doug

    The above options are not legal in many jurisdictions, including here in Connecticut. Unfortunately here the state housing courts will rarely award a landlord more than one month’s damages for prematurely breaking a lease with the thinking that the landlord should be able to re-rent it within that time (true or not)..

    Retaining their security and then demanding a release payment of 2 months rent on top of that would most certainly be deemed as illegal by the court. In any event these “solutions” are not realistic. The housing court would almost certainly deem such lease provisions as non-enforceable and excessively punitive in nature.

    Beware of such advise given on this forum…

  • Although I repeatedly remind tenants that their leases are for a full year, and that they are responsible for the rent for the entire year, I still get requests to break a lease early. My policy has been that if a qualified new tenant can be found to assume the balance of the lease or sign a new lease (usually at higher rent) with no loss of rental income, the lease will be terminated without penalty and the security deposit will be refunded subject to the normal deductions for cleaning and/or damages. I do require the tenant to pay all costs of advertising for a new tenant. If a new tenant is not found, then the entire security deposit is retained. Courts in our area are generally very pro-tenant, and would never allow the fees proposed in the article.

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