Do I have to renew a lease with a bad tenant?

renew a lease with a bad tenant Atlanta Marietta Sandy Springs Roswell Decatur Stone Mountain Lawrenceville GA Georgia

We’ve all had them.

Tenants that feel like their sole purpose is to destroy our sanity.

Bad tenants are the bane of landlords everywhere, whether “bad” means noisy, destructive, or constantly late paying the rent.

The good news: you have every right to not to renew at the end of the lease term, in most cases. Here’s how to part ways with bad tenants legally when their leases are up and not renew a lease with a bad tenant.

You don’t need a reason (most of the time)

In most cases, for fixed-term leases, you don’t need to declare a reason not to renew a tenant’s lease at the end of a fixed-lease term. Neither you nor your tenant needs to give a reason if either party chooses not to renew the lease at the end of its term. The legal agreement is no longer binding after the end date on the contract.

The exception is for Section 8 properties. In these cases, the local public housing authority (PHA) rules lease terminations.

Here’s what to do if working with a PHA:

  • Contact your local PHA to determine the rules regarding lease termination and whether you must give a reason.
  • Find out what constitutes a valid or invalid reason to be sure you’re following the rules.
  • Keep all information regarding the tenant in writing, so you can document your decision not to renew. Proof works in your favor in these cases.

Give fair notice

Even if you don’t tell tenants why a lease isn’t being renewed, let them know you won’t be renewing ahead of time. That way, they’ll have time to find a new place and make arrangements to move out. Make things easier on yourself and your tenants. Include wording in your written lease that details the amount of notice you’ll give if you don’t renew.

If your lease doesn’t specify a non-renewal notification time frame, 60-day notice for landlord and 30-day notice for the tenant. This is according to the Georgia Landlord-Tenant Handbook. As an example, if the lease ends November 30, notify the tenant by October 31 that you will not renew the lease. Check your state’s laws for specifics, as these rules vary by region.

In Georgia, if you have a lease that states 30 days, you only need to provide your tenant with the 30-day notice. If there is no verbiage discussing this in the lease, or you don’t have a lease, then state laws require the landlord to provide the tenant with a 60-day notice.

You can’t retaliate or discriminate

You don’t need to state a reason for not renewing a tenant’s lease. But you’re not allowed to deny renewal as an act of retaliation or discrimination of any sort if the tenant files an action against you. That applies if the tenant follows the terms of the lease and pays rent on time. Discrimination also isn’t allowed. For instance, you can’t decide that you don’t want to renew a lease just because of a tenant’s political or religious views, family values, or any of the other protected classes.

Month-to-month tenancy

If your tenant rents month-to-month without a specific end date to their term of tenancy, you must give them written notice when deciding not to renew the rental agreement. This applies even if the original agreement is verbal.

Most of the time, you can generally give notice equal to one rental period or month, although this varies by state. Please check your state laws here to determine what’s acceptable in your state. Tenants staying on after a fixed-term lease has ended become month-to-month tenants. The same rules apply for notifying them of your decision not to renew.

It’s in your best interest to ditch a bad tenant as soon as their lease is up so you can welcome better tenants. You just may be doing the neighbors a favor, too.

Can a landlord ask a tenant to move out when a lease expires?

Yes. A landlord may choose to terminate a tenancy at the end of a lease. If a landlord would like to end a lease when its term expires, some states require the landlord to give notice to the tenant even though the lease already specifies the termination date. 60 days is usually a sufficient notice for a tenant to search for a new rental.

What happens if a tenant continues to pay rent after a lease agreement expires?

When a lease ends, a tenant may choose to move, continue to pay rent as a month-to-month tenant, or sign a new lease. If a tenant continues to pay rent after a lease ends, in most states the terms of the expired lease carry over into a month-to-month tenancy. The landlord may only alter the terms of the tenancy after giving proper notice to the tenant; most states require at least 30 days notice to change the terms of a month-to-month rental agreement.

In a few states, if a tenant continues to pay rent after a lease expires and the landlord accepts the rent, the lease is automatically renewed. The new lease is for the same length as the old lease and contains the same provisions.

A landlord and a tenant may also agree to extend the tenancy by signing a new lease agreement. The landlord can change the terms of the lease and increase the rent. If the tenant agrees to the new terms, the new lease governs the tenancy.

What options does a landlord have when a tenant moves out before a lease expires?

A tenant may not legally end a lease before it expires unless a state or a federal law applies. Every state has tenant-landlord regulations that determine the reason a tenant may legally break a lease. In some states, for instance, a tenant may terminate a lease early to move to an elderly care facility. Federal law permits a tenant to break a lease when the tenant enlists in the military.

If an exception does not apply, most states require the landlord to mitigate the damages by re-renting the rental unit. The landlord is not required to rent to an unqualified tenant but must take reasonable steps to re-rent the property.

If the landlord incurs costs from the tenant’s unlawful termination, the landlord may sue the tenant if the damages exceed the tenant’s security deposit. A landlord should only sue the former tenant after rerenting the property.

By waiting until the property has been rerented, the landlord can accurately assess the loss. The landlord can sue for the cost to find a tenant, for the time the rental property remained vacant, for attorney fees if such a clause was included in the lease agreement, and for the difference between the rent paid by the new tenant and the old tenant’s rent amount.

How much notice does a tenant have to give to terminate a month-to-month rental agreement?

In most states, a tenant must provide a landlord with a written 30-day notice of the intent to terminate the tenancy. In most cases, a tenant may give notice of termination at any time during the month. If the rental agreement specifies that a tenant may only give notice on a certain day of each month, however, then the tenant must wait until that day to give notice.

Does a landlord have to return a security deposit to the tenant?

A landlord may use a tenant’s security deposit to pay a tenant’s unpaid rent or to fix the damage and clean the unit when the condition exceeds normal wear and tear. Most states require the landlord to return the deposit and provide the tenant with an itemized list of deductions within 14 to 60 days from the date that the tenant moved out.

How can a landlord evict a tenant?

In order to evict a tenant, a landlord must serve the tenant with a written notice of termination. Every state has different guidelines for notification requirements. A landlord may evict the tenant for violating a term in a rental contract or terminate a tenancy without cause to end a lease or month-to-month tenancy. There are three types of terminations for cause: pay rent or quit, cure or quit, or an unconditional quit. In most states, when termination is without cause, a landlord must give the tenant either a 30-day or 60-day termination notice. If the tenant refuses to move out or fix the violation after receiving a termination notice, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit.

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