Text Size: A A A

Circle Stats

Options for Landlords if Virginia Tenants Want to Terminate Their Lease Early

Eric Guggenheimer - Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Once tenants sign the lease at your rental property—provided the lease is valid in the state of Virginia—they are entering into a legally binding agreement with you to rent the property for the specified amount of time.

However, some tenants will have situations that arise that lead to them terminating their lease early. Whether they have a legal reason for breaking the lease or not, you have some decisions to make as a landlord.

What are your options as a Virginia landlord whose tenants want to terminate the lease early? Here’s what you need to know.

Legal Reasons a Tenant Can Break the Lease

While there are many reasons tenants may want to terminate the lease, only a few are legal. A good first place to start is to figure out why tenants are ending the lease. Their reason will determine if they have legal grounds to end your agreement.

There are three main reasons a tenant can legally break a lease in Virginia:

If your tenant is in the military and gets restationed or deployed, they are legally allowed to break the lease. However, they should still give at least 30 days of notice and be current on their rent.

It is legal for tenants to break a lease due to domestic violence, harassment, and sexual assault or abuse in the state of Virginia. However, the tenant must meet specific conditions, such as getting a restraining order against the individual.

The final legal reason for tenants to terminate a lease is if you, the landlord, have failed to uphold part of your agreement. These could include maintenance or safety issues that have gone unaddressed, leading to an uninhabitable dwelling. To prevent disputes around these types of allegations, be sure you keep documentation of your inspections and maintenance of the unit.

Other Reasons a Tenant May Terminate the Lease

Other reasons a tenant may want to break their lease that aren’t technically legal include:

A job loss or transfer
A divorce or separation
A personal illness or illness of a family member

Although you don’t have to allow the termination of the lease in these situations, it may be in your best interest to do so. For example, tenants who have lost a job won’t be able to continue paying rent.

Once you evaluate the specific reasons your tenants want to break the lease, you can move on to the next steps.

Your Options as a Landlord in Virginia

If your tenant has legal grounds to end the lease, you have no choice but to accept the termination and begin to search for a new tenant. Although you may be in a rush to fill the vacancy, be sure to follow your normal screening process to ensure a responsible renter for your unit.

Although your current tenants may offer to find someone to rent the unit for you—also known as subletting—this isn’t always a good idea. Even if the tenant finds a suitable replacement, you must conduct your usual screening process to ensure the person is responsible.

Remember to not use the tenant’s security deposit for any unpaid rent. It may be tempting to do this if you’re not sure you’ll get paid next month. However, you may still need this money to make repairs to the property. Tenants who leave early may be less likely to take proper care of the unit before they leave.

To minimize hassle in the future, be sure you have a clause in your lease pertaining specifically to early termination. You can choose to allow tenants to terminate early for a fee (which, generally, is one or two months’ worth of rent) and with 30 days of written notice.

Having a clause regarding early termination in your lease can help minimize conflict and give you a way to allow tenants to vacate for whatever reason as long as they pay the fee, which will give you time to find a new tenant.

Let Us Help You Make the Process Easier

Circle Property Management works with Virginia landlords to make lease drafting and early termination issues easier for everyone. Contact our team today to find out how we can make your income property a stress-free investment at (703) 349-0144!

About The Author

Eric Guggenheimer - SFR, ARM ® » Principal Broker, Certified Property Manager, IREM, ARM, NARPM, NVAR, NAR, VAR