Life is unpredictable and there are things that even the most seasoned landlord can’t predict. Major life changes, such as health issues, loss of job, and divorce are just a few big factors that can’t be screened for. So what happens when your tenants split up? There are a few things for landlords to consider when news of a break-up hits.
As soon as your tenants notify you of a divorce or break-up, it’s important to learn their intentions. Is one tenant leaving? Both? Keeping the lines of communication open between all parties on the lease is key. Once you know how they plan to move forward, you can better prepare for how you need to proceed.
Divorce and The Lease
Everyone who signs a lease is responsible for all of the terms of the lease whether they live there or not. This includes paying rent and maintaining the property. Make sure your tenants understand that if one of them leaves and isn’t removed from the lease, they’re not released from their obligation.
All those named on the lease are also entitled to access to the property. This means that the locks can’t be changed if one of the tenants moves out (except in cases of domestic violence, so be sure to consult a real estate attorney for further information). So long as the original lease stays in play, all parties named on the agreement should be allowed access. Failure to do so may result in an unlawful eviction claim and other legal trouble.
Modifying the Lease
It’s not uncommon for tenants to request changes to be made to the lease to accommodate their life changes. In this case, your options depend on what they ask for. If both tenants choose to leave early, follow the procedures listed in your lease agreement. They should go through the same process as all other tenants who choose to break their lease early. If one tenants wants to be removed from the lease, make sure the remaining tenant qualifies for the property on their own.
Professionalism is Key
Your rental property is a business, which means the relationship between you and your tenants should be nothing short of professional. This can help if your tenant attempts to pull you further into the drama. As the landlord, your focus should be on enforcing the lease. While divorce is hard, it doesn’t release a tenant from their obligation. Keep your personal feelings aside and don’t get involved beyond your obligations as the landlord. Stick to communicating intentions and enforcing the lease agreement. Otherwise, you may end up in a lawsuit for favoring one tenant over the other.
Divorce and break-ups are never easy and affect more than those who are splitting. It’s a reality that many landlords have to face and poses its own unique challenges each time it occurs. If you’re unsure how to proceed, contact a real estate attorney to help guide you through the process. Having as much information as possible is never a bad thing! This is where it helps to have a reliable property management company to navigate these challenges for you! Contact Real Property Management Colorado to learn more!