Tenant Moved Out on Your Sublet Agreement and Left You Holding the Bag?
Maybe your tenant skipped out on the remainder of his sublet agreement and now you are left with a vacated, non-producing room or property. What do you do now?
1. The first thing you do is make sure you keep emotions out of it, stay objective and goal oriented. Gather your ex-tenants files (i.e. rental application, sublet agreement, etc.) and make sure you have concise, organized records.
2. Maintain all receipts of monies spent maintain the property. Complete a move-out inspection checklist, preferably with the tenant so they can sign the document. Also, make sure you do a move-in inspection with the next tenant before you sign a sublet agreement.
3. A sometimes confusing issue for some landlords is whether or not you may charge through the sublease. If your tenant your tenant signed a 1-year sublease and left after 8 months, does he owe for the last 4 months? The answer is, if you cannot re-rent it; the tenant owes you for each month missed as they become due. In other words, you cannot attempt to collect on money until the month it is owed.
4. Is there a termination clause in your sublease? Termination and no notice fees may be legal in your state, and your tenant may be held responsible for them. If legal in your state, termination and no notice fees may be a good way to calculate all charges at the time of move-out, without having to add future rent as it comes due. Be sure to talk with your attorney about this before proceeding.
5. Simple but important; take pictures. Have move-in pictures and move-out pictures to document the condition of the unit. The tenant may try to lie about the condition of certain items in the house, always have yourself covered with pictures of at least the big tickets items (i.e. refrigerator, stove, bath, etc.)
6. Maintain a log of all communications with the tenants, specifically with regard to rent payment on each sublet agreement you have. If you haven’t used a log in the past, it is highly advisable that you begin now.
7. Once you have all your documents together and have mailed your move-out statement, be sure to keep the files someplace handy. You never know when a tenant will come back and try to settle their debt. Keep a positive attitude, and with a little effort and patience, you may end up collecting what you are owed.