How Do I Handle a Tenant Who Wants Out of a Lease?

Flavia owns a condo she's using as a rental property. The new tenant signed an agreement and just called to back out of the lease. Flavia has the first month's rent and a deposit. Should Flavia keep the money?

QUESTION: Flavia in Florida owns a condo she’s using as a rental property. The current tenant’s lease is up on Friday. The new tenant signed an agreement 3.5 weeks ago and just called Flavia to back out of the lease. Flavia has the first month’s rent and a deposit. Should Flavia keep the money?

ANSWER: I own a bunch of rental property. Unless there’s a reason for an exception, I would keep her money and I would re-rent it. The reason for the exception would be mercy and compassion for her situation. It sounds like she’s got a valid bad situation. It doesn’t sound like she was just impulsive. It sounds like that her kids need her because her ex is in trouble health-wise, and that’s information she didn’t have when she signed. Even though she’s not smart enough to say it this way, I think she’s asking for mercy.

I would try to lease it as fast as possible, and I would refund her any money it doesn’t cost you. If you can get it rented in two weeks, it costs you two weeks, right? You could give her her deposit back and two weeks’ rent back. I would do something like that to where at least you break even if you feel like her story is good and you want to extend mercy to her. I want to know that the story’s good, and if it is, I’m not trying to profit from her struggles. But I don’t mind profiting from someone’s stupid impulses. I’m keeping your freaking money.

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