Bought a house, how do I tell my landlords?
July 19, 2021 7:41 AM   Subscribe

Bought a house (yay!) but now I need to tell my wonderful amazing landlords that I'll be breaking my lease four months early to move in. What do I say?

We plan on renting through the end of August while we do some remodeling. Our lease indicates that we can break it with 30 days notice and forfeit of our deposit, which is fine, we've lived here for several years and it covers the general wear-and-tear. I also have someone who would LOVE to take over my lease. Is there a template for this that isn't as formal as the ones I've found through google? If you are a landlord, what would you like to see?
posted by coldbabyshrimp to Human Relations (14 answers total)
 
Best answer: We moved out of a house after ten years in a rented flat with a landlady we became good friends with, for a similar reason. MeMail me if you’d like a copy of the email I sent her.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:45 AM on July 19, 2021


You definitely don't need to explain your reasons for moving, just that you've "had an excellent time in the property but due to circumstances you need to move on. Per the lease clause (citation) you can vacate the lease early and forfeit the deposit if necessary. However, you have a recommendation for a new tenant who would love to pick up the space so there's not going to be a surplus of unrented time, and you'd be delighted to give positive feedback on any landlord/property review site they may use. You've had a fantastic experience at the property, and are sure the next tenant will feel the same!"
posted by FatherDagon at 7:50 AM on July 19, 2021 [6 favorites]


Ask them if they have any requirements -- not preferences -- for a possible sublet. But first check the lease to see if it says whether sublets are banned, acceptable, or not mentioned at all. (I don't honestly know what happens in the latter situation!)

We rented the house back to the previous owners for a short time, and we used some standard lease agreement that we found online. Luckily there weren't any problems, because I shudder to think what could have happened.

But also make sure that your overlap is enough time. When we bought our first house we only had a month to totally clean and paint and fix up everything, and I wish we'd had a couple more weeks. It was a life-saver that my in-laws lived nearby and could help work and also watch our toddler.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:51 AM on July 19, 2021 [2 favorites]


Since you have a good relationship with them I'd do it like when you quit a job - tell them first, either over the phone or in an email, and then follow up with the formal written notice that you are breaking your lease.

The phone call or email can say basically what you've said here - "You guys have been amazing, we've loved living here but we've bought a new place and we'll be ending our lease effective August 31st. We understand that under the terms of our lease we'll be forfeiting our deposit. Or our friend $FRIEND would be interested in taking over the lease - do you mind if we pass on your information to her?"

Then you send the formal notice that you've seen online.

But also yes six weeks is not very long for remodeling and even just plain moving can take a lot longer than you think, especially if you've been in the same place for several years. Maybe you've got this all planned out and you'll be fine, but just make sure you won't want to have the old place for September as well.
posted by mskyle at 7:56 AM on July 19, 2021 [4 favorites]


All good options and considerations noted in earlier answers. i'd only add that, whatever method you use to convey your plans to the landlord, you employ it today! That's the kindest thing you can do, and the thing most likely to lead to a reasonable resolution from all points of view.
posted by bullatony at 8:12 AM on July 19, 2021 [2 favorites]


I also vote for giving yourself extra time... remodeling tends to take longer than you think. Unless it's the kind you can live in the house with.

I successfully avoided a penalty more than once by finding a backup renter. If they are a good fit it's a win for your landlord who doesn't have to advertise or do lots of credit checks.
posted by emjaybee at 8:21 AM on July 19, 2021 [4 favorites]


In a call or email, I'd say something like, "I wanted to let you know that we've bought a house so we're going to be moving out at the end of August [or maybe a later date; I agree that's not giving you much time for remodeling]. I understand that normally that would mean forfeiting our deposit. But I know someone who would love to take over our lease as soon as we leave. I'm wondering if in that case you could either refund our deposit after my friend gives you his deposit or keep my deposit and let my friend move in without giving you a new deposit. [Some friendly stuff about how great it's been to live there.]"

If he wants to keep the deposit but will waive the deposit requirement for your friend, then it would be reasonable for your friend to give you the deposit amount.
posted by Redstart at 8:24 AM on July 19, 2021 [1 favorite]


A similar scenario just occurred with one of our rental units. Another thing the prior/new tenants did to smooth the way for a friend taking over the lease was to deal with stuff like transferring the keys, coordinating the moves out/in, changing the names on the utility accounts, and other administrivia, which made matters easier for me. Both the former and current tenants are nurses and therefore COVID-cautious, so minimizing contact was appreciated all around. Former tenant sent me photos of the unit and then took the security deposit from the new tenant, who I will presumably reimburse once he decides to move on. I really appreciated avoiding the time/expense associated with finding and vetting a new tenant and, to be honest, I hope the unit is passed from nurse to nurse indefinitely.
posted by carmicha at 8:36 AM on July 19, 2021 [2 favorites]


Best answer: We actually had exactly this situation with our wonderful former tenants who had just purchased a house. In their lease, we had reserved the right to keep a month's rent as an early termination fee. However our tenants were very cooperative in assisting us in showing the unit, and we were able to find new tenants to replace them effectively without a gap, so we didn't keep any of the deposit. Since you're on good terms with them, I'd urge you just to phone up your landlords and have a conversation (follow up with a quick email so things are in writing, maybe). I would definitely tell them about the house purchase rather than just chalking up the move to "circumstances": as a landlord, I would be much more likely to waive an early termination fee due to something extenuating like a house purchase than a move that seems to be made for opaque reasons.

Our tenants called and told us the good news about their house purchase, and we were very excited for them. We then very amicably discussed logistics. They were clear about their desire not to have their deposit taken, we were clear that we didn't want to take their deposit and we would seek a renter to replace them, and they were clear that they would help us do so. It was all very friendly and worked out well. I think that especially given that you have a friend who wants to replace you, the conversation with your landlords is likely to go very smoothly.

I would also caution you against leaving too little overlap time for reno. Our tenants also left I think 6 weeks of overlap with our apartment and their new house, and they were very pushed time-wise. It proved very hard to line up plumbers, painters, etc. (or even get them out for estimates - it's insane right now!). If there are things that you absolutely need to have done before you move into the house, I would line up definite dates for those things and book them before you give notice for your apartment.
posted by ClaireBear at 9:10 AM on July 19, 2021 [8 favorites]


We plan on renting through the end of August while we do some remodeling.

I would be suprised if you're ready to move in at the end of September honestly. I wouldn't give notice any further in advance than you absolutely have to.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:31 AM on July 19, 2021


Response by poster: Thanks all, this has been excellent advice. Email sent :)

Appreciate the call-outs to extend through September but that won't be necessary. No kids and minimal belongings. We're moving from a small house, 700 sq ft, to a small house, 900 sq. feet and the remodeling is being done by me with the help from very skilled and industrious friends.
posted by coldbabyshrimp at 10:08 AM on July 19, 2021


Just to nth everyone else with our recent anecdata point: we gave ourselves two months from close date to move-in date. Surely that was enough time to replace the bedroom floors and get a couple of other small things done, right?

We moved in three weeks ago and our mattress is *still* in the middle of the living room, as we're still waiting on our floor material to be shipped. At this rate, we might be able to put our bedroom together by ... September?

Congratulations on the house!
posted by Pandora Kouti at 10:11 AM on July 19, 2021


Just to echo Pandora Kouti, even if the work is being done by you and your industrious friends, you may find yourselves waiting for necessary materials. Supply chains are still hinky. I'd strongly recommend checking with your supplier(s) before you commit yourselves.
posted by kate4914 at 10:55 AM on July 19, 2021 [3 favorites]


I will say, I did this a while back and the management company was extremely worked up about it even though we sourced them a new tenant that they approved and they lost no money. So just be forewarned that sometimes people can take it personally. It sounds like you're doing everything "right" here but they may try to gaslight you into thinking you owe them something more than what you're doing. Be firm! This is normal and a sensible way to handle it.
posted by heresiarch at 11:19 AM on July 19, 2021


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