Q: My tenant broke his lease, but paid the remaining 3 months rent left on his lease. Am I now allowed to rent the house?
I heard you’re not allowed to rent your house before the original lease expires (because you’d essentially be getting double rent). But the former tenant broke the lease of his own choice and paid the remaining rent of his own choice too. Must I keep my house vacant for 3 months?
A: As long as it is clear that the tenant has abandoned or otherwise terminated his tenancy, you are free to re-assume possession and rent it out. IF you rent it out prior to the remaining three months on the ex-tenant's lease, and for which you have been paid in full, you must refund to the ex-tenant on a daily pro-rated basis, rent from whenever the new tenant assumes liability. You are correct that you cannot collect "double rent" however unless it is in the form of an early termination clause in a written lease providing for you charging up to a month and a half rent to terminate the lease. Your situation is why many landlords have shifted to using the early termination clause in their leases - in the current rental climate, most landlords can re-rent in less than 1 1/2 months so they make more money by getting to keep the month and a half's rent and getting a new paying tenant in asap. But either way, you apparently currently need to simply re-rent and refund the balance of the pre-paid rent once you do. You also are obligated to make reasonable efforts to re-rent rather than just sit back for the 3 months without trying to re-rent, if you want to be able to keep any of those 3 months rent.
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