Being honest and polite in negotiations, knowing one’s rights, securing a written copy of lease agreements and asking for a letter of reference are some tips and tricks for tenants looking to break their residential lease early due to the economic impact of COVID-19. These and other findings are outlined below.
Tip #1: Be Honest and Respectful In Negotiations
- Realtor.com outlines several tips when breaking a residential lease early due to economic difficulties brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The number one tip is to be upfront about one’s situation, whether that means being unemployed or wanting to move to a cheaper place to rent.
- The article points out that many landlords might experience skipped or late rent payments at this time so honesty from tenants might be highly appreciated.
- Tenants can negotiate breaking a lease early for a lower fee or forfeiting their security deposits.
- Tenants can also offer to help find a new renter in return for breaking the lease early.
- Brick Underground.com recommends a similar transparent approach when negotiating with landlords regarding lease agreements.
- Attorney Mark Hakim of Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas commented, “You want to approach the landlord in a way that they can see where you are coming from, and that you are not just looking to benefit off the back of your landlord.”
- 6ABC reported that a couple in Philadelphia who suffered unemployment were able to negotiate with their landlord not to pay a $3,500 fee for breaking a residential lease early, in spite of an initial demand to do so.
- Realtor.com pointed out that landlords are more flexible at this time to protect their cash flow and may consider breaking a lease early for an unemployed tenant in order to accommodate an employed renter.
Tip #2: Know Your Rights
- Brick Underground.com reminds tenants to know their rights in order to come to the best agreement about a residential lease.
- Several states including Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey among others have prohibited foreclosures to protect tenants who have been economically affected by COVID-19.
- Many jurisdictions have also suspended civil courts which prevents landlords from filing a rent court hearing.
- The Orange County Register advises tenants to read the lease agreement and check if there is a provision that allows early termination for a fee.
- Tenants can also check their rental insurance policies to determine it if includes provision for a national emergency such as a pandemic.
- OCR reminds that extreme circumstances can also void a residential lease.
- These include danger to personal safety or a problem in the residential property not addressed by the landlord.
- However, such ‘habitability claims‘ are best supported by legal counsel and extensive documentation as evidence.
- Likewise, tenants are also discouraged from breaking a residential lease without legal justification as they might suffer credit damage or court-imposed penalties.
Tip #3: Secure A Written Copy of Agreement
- Realtor.com advises to get all agreements between a tenant and their landlord in writing.
- The article advises against trusting nonverbal agreements especially when it comes to breaking lease early.
- Once a lease agreement is reached, a written document must be signed by both parties.
- Without a written copy of agreement, the tenant’s word will have to stand against their landlord’s in case of legal complications.
- Best Best & Krieger Law also suggests considering confidentiality in lease negotiations to prevent tenants from comparing notes.
Tip #4: Ask For a Letter of Reference
- Realtor.com encourages tenants to secure a letter of reference during a negotiation to break a negotiation lease early.
- This is crucial to finding a new lease after the previous one has been successfully broken.
- A letter of reference will greatly help tenants in search of a new place to rent especially if they have suffered unemployment due to COVID-19.