What are a landlord’s options when a tenant’s lease is about to expire?

Under normal circumstances, a tenant will let a landlord know in advance what they intend to do when their lease expires. If they intend to vacate, they’ll leave the premises by the time the lease expires. If they intend to stay, they’ll renew their lease. If a tenant’s lease is about to expire and you have not received notification of what is to come, you have two options:

  • Consider the tenant a hold-over tenant and continue to accept payment as a month-to-month tenancy
  • Act as if the tenant is a holdover and sue to evict and recover damages

What are a landlord’s options when a tenant’s lease is about to expire?

Under some circumstances, lease agreements that have a fixed term hold tenants responsible for the rent they owe until the property is leased out again (mitigated damages) or until their lease expires, whichever happens first. But landlords have a duty to use commercially reasonable efforts to mitigate damages. It doesn’t matter whether you were given notice of the tenant leaving or not. You can collect rent in the following manner?

  • Notify the tenant in writing of what is owed and accept payment
  • File a civil lawsuit against the tenant, which will result in payment or a judgment against the tenant
    If the tenant does not pay, you can seek judgment enforcement as for example wage garnishment, bank levy, etc.

What court are eviction lawsuits filed in?

Eviction lawsuits are filed in the civil court or district court of the county in which the rental property is located. It’s important to keep detailed records of your collection efforts and any communication with your tenant in the days and weeks leading up to the lawsuit. Your tenant will be served once you’ve filed the lawsuit and ordered to pay and/or appear in court. You too will be required to appear in court. In many cases, landlords receive a judgment, which gives them collection authority. Trials typically only take place when the tenant disputes the claim against them.

What are a landlord’s legal responsibilities?

The specific responsibilities of a landlord vary from state to state, but in general landlords must:

  • Maintain safe and inhabitable conditions of the property
  • Abide by state rent laws
  • Give receipts for cash rent payment
  • Maintain security deposits in segregated accounts
  • Respect tenant privacy
  • Avoid discriminatory actions
  • Meet requirements concerning return of security deposits
  • Prepare a written lease agreement
  • Make all legally required disclosures
  • Abide by eviction and termination laws
  • Not act in a retaliatory manner if a tenant exercises his or her legal rights
    If a landlord fails to abide by the laws in his or her state, tenants have the right to take legal action.

Is a landlord responsible for damaged property?

In general, yes by statute, but exactly what this means might be determined on a lease by lease basis. Furthermore, if a tenant damages property, they can be held responsible for repair.
Landlords are responsible for:

  • Repairs related to reasonable wear and tear, such aswear of flooring, water leaks, chipped or worn paint, etc.
  • All manner of urgent (burst water pipe, gas leak, broken toilet, serious flooding) and non-urgent repairs (broken appliance, damaged dry wall)
  • Damage from natural disasters
    Keep in mind, there are time limits regarding how quickly both urgent and non-urgent repairs should be addressed.