Sometimes it can make sense to exit a lease with a tenant

Bad tenants happen. Sometimes they’re noisy. Sometimes they’re destructive to the property. Sometimes they pay late every month. And other times they’re disrespectful or hard to get along with, warranting complaints from neighbors. Bad tenants are bad for business, and it’s in your best interest to fill that unit with a good tenant instead.

Thankfully you don’t have to deal with bad tenants forever. If they have an annual or month to month lease, simply stop renewing their lease when their next term is up. Here’s how to do that politely.

Side note— what about eviction?

Eviction is an option when a renter is really bad. But it can also be difficult, time consuming, and expensive. Maybe your tenant isn’t quite bad enough that eviction is a good use of your time, but you still can’t imagine renting to them forever. That’s where you simply refuse to renew their lease when their term is up.

Do I need a reason to end a lease?

No. Just as a tenant can (and often does) move out at the end of their fixed-lease term without telling you their reasoning, you are perfectly free to let them know that the lease has ended and won’t be available for renewal without providing any reason behind it. (However, it is illegal for you to deny renewal as an act of retaliation or discrimination against race, gender, religious views, et cetera.)

How to Tell Tenants Their Lease Isn’t Being Renewed

Give them plenty of advance notice that their fixed-term lease can’t be extended.

It’s only fair to tell your tenants as soon as you determine that you cannot renew their lease. Give them as much time as possible to find a new place—they’ll appreciate it. One month is the absolute minimum here. A couple of months is probably better.

Give written notice equal to (at least) one month for month-to-month renters.

If your tenant is on a month to month basis, it is usually required by law to give them written notice one month in advance. However, this can vary by state, so make sure to check state laws.

Be direct and to-the-point.

After initial pleasantries, simply state that their lease is not up for renewal. No excuses are necessary.

Be polite and courteous.

Whether it’s in writing or in person, be as kind, understanding, and courteous as possible. They might not be the best tenants, but it’s still your responsibility to offer good customer service to them. You want them to leave with a good impression of you. Perhaps someday they’ll recommend your properties to some of their better-behaved friends or relatives!