Posted on 3 Comments

Question: Owner Wants Property Back

The Question of the Week is from someone who wrote, “I have an owner who wants possession of her home due to personal reasons. The tenant’s lease expires November 2020. The tenant  has informed me that he has no intention of moving.  What recourse do I need to take because the owner is insisting that she will demand possession because it is her home?”

I asked some more questions and found out there was no lease clause allowing early cancellation by the owner. The tenant was a model tenant and also paid her rent early every month. My answer was: Because there was no specific language in the lease authorizing it, the owner is not allowed to cancel the lease and cannot demand possession. She can wait until November of 2020. She can offer money to buy out the tenant’s remaining lease term. MAYBE she can fire the property manager, find some lawyer to file an eviction lawsuit, and end up being sued by the tenant and having to pay damages and the tenant’s legal fees.

It is not uncommon for owners of single family residence rentals to want the flexibility to cancel a lease. This is especially true for military owners who move back to the area, and also owners who rent a property until they can sell it. Other times, the child of an elderly person in an assisted living facility will rent out the parent’s home. After death, the child wants to sell the home.

The solution is to have a lease clause allowing cancellation under certain limited and specifically described circumstances. Typically such a clause will give the tenant 60 days notice of cancellation. Sometimes a tenant will negotiate the clause, and want the last month’s rent free. Most owners are willing to give that.

Do you want more information about landlord/tenant law, including lease clauses that can provide better protections and more flexibility than the standard leases everybody uses? Check out the full day class on Landlord Tenant Law, or the half-day FAQ Landlord Law, under the Resources tab on this website.