When Your Tenant Wants to Break a Lease in Vermont
What should you do if your tenant wants to break their lease before it expires and what are the responsibilities of the tenant and the landlord when this happens? This situation happens more frequently than you would think. Tenants break up with their significant other, maybe their job requires them to move, etc. There is an endless list of things that can happen and it is important to know what you as a landlord can legally require of a tenant in this situation.
In Vermont if a tenant wants to move out before the expiration of their lease you can legally hold the tenant responsible for the rent for the remainder of the lease term. The catch is you as the landlord, or your property manager, must make a reasonable effort to re-rent the apartment. Once the apartment has been re-rented you can no longer hold the previous tenant liable for paying rent. When it comes to the security deposit, a landlord cannot hold the security deposit to pay rent if the new tenant is paying rent for the same period. However, the landlord can deduct any costs from the security deposit that are needed to cover re-renting the new apartment such as advertising, screening, etc.
If a landlord will not allow the tenant to break the lease there is an alternative option. The landlord could allow the tenant to sublet the unit until the end of the lease term. The original tenant however would still be responsible for making sure rent is paid on time and the property is kept in good condition. As a landlord it is always a good idea to perform a screening and background check on any person wanting to sublet.