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    Tenant breaks lease and skips out on rent

    Jurisdiction / State: Texas

    I rented out my home in Texas to a family that I have never had issues with. I'm in the military deployed so most contact has been via email. Anyway, the tenant emails me and tells me they need to break the lease due to his job relocating him. Being military I understand and told him so. He told me they were moving in March. I had no issue with that and immediately started looking for a new tenant. He went as far as even showing the house to a potential renter due to my location. I let him know that if I couldn't find a tenant to move in when he left I would require him to pay March rent. I also agreed to return his deposit as long as everything checked out. Well, next I know I get an email saying he had to be there earlier than expected (mid Feb). Again, I didn't have an issue with it but let him know that he is still liable for Feb's rent. Rent day has come and gone, I emailed him and asked did he deposit the money or was there an issue. I have not heard from him. I currently have no new tenant, no forwarding address for him, and I am not even sure if he is still living in the home. (A friend that lives in Texas is going to go by the house and check). If he does skip out on the rent, what legal rights do I have to regain compensation for rents that would have been paid for the one year lease (he's lived there for 5 months, so there's still 7months left) if he fulfilled his obligation?


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    You can pursue him for the rent if you choose, however at the same time you have to continue to search for a new tenant to minimize your damages. He is not liable for 7 months unpaid rent- only the time that the house is unoccupied until a new tenant takes over- and you have to make reasonable effort to rent it out to someone else. Getting a new tenant isn't his responsibility, though it was nice of him to help out as you say he did. You are obviously not in position to deal with this adequately. You should have someone acting on your behalf in Texas while you are away.
    Personally, I suggest you keep up the search for a new tenant to hopefully move in at the start of March. If you can get one then just be done with it. If you remain stuck without a tenant you can try to track the guy down and sue him for the rent, but you seem to have no idea where he has gone- and if he is out of the state then you have a bigger problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nellak21 View Post
    I rented out my home in Texas to a family that I have never had issues with. I'm in the military deployed so most contact has been via email. Anyway, the tenant emails me and tells me they need to break the lease due to his job relocating him. Being military I understand and told him so. He told me they were moving in March. I had no issue with that and immediately started looking for a new tenant. He went as far as even showing the house to a potential renter due to my location. I let him know that if I couldn't find a tenant to move in when he left I would require him to pay March rent. I also agreed to return his deposit as long as everything checked out. Well, next I know I get an email saying he had to be there earlier than expected (mid Feb). Again, I didn't have an issue with it but let him know that he is still liable for Feb's rent. Rent day has come and gone, I emailed him and asked did he deposit the money or was there an issue. I have not heard from him. I currently have no new tenant, no forwarding address for him, and I am not even sure if he is still living in the home. (A friend that lives in Texas is going to go by the house and check). If he does skip out on the rent, what legal rights do I have to regain compensation for rents that would have been paid for the one year lease (he's lived there for 5 months, so there's still 7months left) if he fulfilled his obligation?


    You have a problem in pursuing this deadbeat.
    If he has moved out of state, you'll have to sue him in that state.
    If you sue him in Texas, you have to sue him in the Justice of the Peace Court located within the same county, precinct, and place where the home is located.
    If he moved to another location in Texas, he has the right to demand that you sue him in the JP Court located within the county, precinct, and place where he now resides.

    Now, for the really depressing news.
    Even if you were to surmount the previous obstacles and costs, all a JP Court can do is provide you with a judgment.
    The pices of paper (judgment) you will then have to try and levy against some of his assets.
    That ain't easy, its almost impossible in Texas.
    Texas protects debtors assets constitutionally and exempts things like wages, cars, homes, etc..., so you have little to levy against to collect your judgment from deadbeat renters.

    But, if you do sue him and get a judgment, you can impact his ability to do this again (soon) to others.

    But, that would be throwing good money after bad.

    You need to know the following about the deposit, because you have ONLY 30 days from his departure to provide him an accounting of it.
    If you don't, he can SUE you and get it ALL back!
    Because he abandoned the property, you can probably keep his deposit, but YOU MUST do it by the NUMBERS!

    I'd try to rent the unit as soon as I could, and not worry about going after the deadbeat.
    After all, you DO have his deposit.
    But, read carefully what I advise about that.

    Thank you for your service to our nation.

    If your property is in or near Bell County, I'd be willing to help you pro bono, if you need any legal assistance regarding your property.

    I'm a retired JAG.

    Good luck!



    LIMIT: Texas landlords have 30 days after the tenant vacates the premises to refund the security deposit

    If the tenant fulfills the lease contract, the security deposit is always refundable; a tenant can never waive their right to a refund of the security deposit. However, the landlord can keep part of the deposit if the lease states that a "redecorating fee" or a "make-ready fee" will be deducted from the deposit. If the landlord retains all or part of a security deposit, the landlord is required to give to the tenant a written description and itemized list of all deductions providing the tenant meets certain conditions.

    These conditions are:

    1. Rent Owed: A landlord is not required to give the tenant a description and itemized list of deductions if the tenant owes rent when the tenant moves out and there is no controversy over the amount of rent owed. If the landlord claims the tenant owes rent and the tenant disputes the claim, the tenant should make a written request for the deposit which states the tenant�s position about the rent.

    2. Forwarding Address. The landlord is not required to return a deposit until 30 days after the tenant moves out and only if the tenant gives the landlord the tenant's forwarding address in writing. However, the tenant does not forfeit the right to a refund of the security deposit or to receive a description of damages just because the tenant forgot to turn in a written forwarding address. Send the forwarding address certified mail, return receipt requested.

    http://www.rentlaw.com/dep/txdeposit.htm

    Happy Chanukkah, Christmas, & New Year!

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    I am still looking for a new tenant so that hasn't changed. I know where he's moving and it wouldn't be difficult to find him. However, I have friend that is going by to check on the place and my husband will be going down next week. It's a very unfortunate event but I will make the best of it. Thank you.

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    Army Judge,
    Thanks for the advice. The house is in Tarrant County. I know the tenant is moving to Tennessee. Sounds like it's more headache than it's worth to pursue this and like you said that's throwing good money after bad! I know I can't technically keep his deposit for the unpaid rent and have no intention on doing so. Thank you for your advice I really do appreciate it!

    Quote Originally Posted by army judge View Post

    You have a problem in pursuing this deadbeat.
    If he has moved out of state, you'll have to sue him in that state.
    If you sue him in Texas, you have to sue him in the Justice of the Peace Court located within the same county, precinct, and place where the home is located.
    If he moved to another location in Texas, he has the right to demand that you sue him in the JP Court located within the county, precinct, and place where he now resides.

    Now, for the really depressing news.
    Even if you were to surmount the previous obstacles and costs, all a JP Court can do is provide you with a judgment.
    The pices of paper (judgment) you will then have to try and levy against some of his assets.
    That ain't easy, its almost impossible in Texas.
    Texas protects debtors assets constitutionally and exempts things like wages, cars, homes, etc..., so you have little to levy against to collect your judgment from deadbeat renters.

    But, if you do sue him and get a judgment, you can impact his ability to do this again (soon) to others.

    But, that would be throwing good money after bad.

    You need to know the following about the deposit, because you have ONLY 30 days from his departure to provide him an accounting of it.
    If you don't, he can SUE you and get it ALL back!
    Because he abandoned the property, you can probably keep his deposit, but YOU MUST do it by the NUMBERS!

    I'd try to rent the unit as soon as I could, and not worry about going after the deadbeat.
    After all, you DO have his deposit.
    But, read carefully what I advise about that.

    Thank you for your service to our nation.

    If your property is in or near Bell County, I'd be willing to help you pro bono, if you need any legal assistance regarding your property.

    I'm a retired JAG.

    Good luck!

  6. #6
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    " I know I can't technically keep his deposit for the unpaid rent and have no intention on doing so. "

    What makes you believe that you cannot keep his security deposit for the unpaid rent? Of course you can keep the deposit for unpaid rent. What Army Judge pointed out is that you must make the effort to let your tenant know the status of their security deposit within the required time period for this state.

    There are cases of tenants who have left in the middle of the night, left terrible amounts of damages and then turned around and sued (and won) judgements because the landlord did not make the effort to contact them regarding their security deposit.

    Follow the steps that were provided (I've repeated them below).

    These conditions are:

    1. Rent Owed: A landlord is not required to give the tenant a description and itemized list of deductions if the tenant owes rent when the tenant moves out and there is no controversy over the amount of rent owed. If the landlord claims the tenant owes rent and the tenant disputes the claim, the tenant should make a written request for the deposit which states the tenant�s position about the rent.

    2. Forwarding Address. The landlord is not required to return a deposit until 30 days after the tenant moves out and only if the tenant gives the landlord the tenant's forwarding address in writing. However, the tenant does not forfeit the right to a refund of the security deposit or to receive a description of damages just because the tenant forgot to turn in a written forwarding address. Send the forwarding address certified mail, return receipt requested.

    http://www.rentlaw.com/dep/txdeposit.

    Gail

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