We all wish for wonderful tenants who pay on time and stay until the end of their lease. Unfortunately, life is unpredictable and renters will sometimes break their leases and vacate early. Here are some common warning signs of tenants who may vacate early, so you can better prepare for these situations:

1. Be a Good Listener
At times, a tenant will communicate something with you that indicates that they intend to leave. Perhaps they’ve asked you what your policy is for breaking a lease, inquired about the specifics of your subletting policy, or they’ve asked you about transfer fees (when a residence is transferred to another tenant before the end of the lease). All of these questions should raise red flags that your tenant is thinking about leaving early. Also, stay in touch with neighbors and your other renters nearby. Keep your finger on the pulse of neighborhood news, because your tenant may speak to a neighbor about plans to leave before they come to you.

2. Schedule a Visit
If you have suspicions that your tenant may be planning to leave early, schedule a routine visit with them and take note of the inventory. Perhaps there are boxes in the living room or a couch is missing. Tenants will often start to remove their belongings before they officially vacate.

3. Sudden Changes in Behavior
If your tenant always pays rent on time and suddenly misses a payment, this may be a warning sign that they’re on their way out. Your tenant may be experiencing financial hardship that has caused them to no longer able to afford the residence. Another change in behavior to keep an eye out for is when extremely neat and responsible tenants suddenly stop caring for the property as much as they used to–the grass looks overgrown, the windows are dirty, and the hedges are untrimmed. When a tenant is planning to leave, they may start detaching themselves from the property and not caring for it as much as they did when it was their “home.”

4. Life Events
Life events can cause tenants to break leases for financial or emotional reasons. For example, if your tenants decide to get a divorce, it’s highly likely that one or both of the tenants will be vacating the property.
Has your renter gone through a recent life event? Examples of some common life events include:

  • Losing a job
  • Changing careers
  • Breaking up with a long-term partner or going through a divorce
  • Entering a new relationship
  • Getting married
  • Giving birth
  • Experiencing a major illness or injury
  • Losing a roommate
  • Being a victim of violence (especially in the residence)
  • Experiencing the recent death of a loved one

Sometimes it’s impossible to know when one of the life events above has occurred. Just be observant and friendly towards your tenants, so you can begin to notice when anything significant changes in their lives.

5. Complaints
Pay special attention to tenants who complain, especially if they have had relatively few complaints in the past. Perhaps these renters don’t like their new neighbor’s loud parties or the Rottweiler next door. If there are enough reasons for someone to be unhappy, they may vacate early.

POSTED May 04 2015 1:51 PM

Tenant Screening

Comprehensive credit & criminal screening.
Get access to bankruptcies, employment history, medical records, past addresses, evictions and more.

View Pricing & Get Started

Legal Forms

State-specific legal forms.
Lease agreements, rental applications, lease termination, eviction forms and much more.

Browse Our Legal Forms

Membership Pricing

Our paid membership plans now include free tenant screenings! Greater access to all of our features and the membership pays for itself!

View Pricing & Get Started

Landlord Tenant Laws
top 100 landlords