Suggestions for dealing with lease option tenant in California

Last summer I leased an investment house I own using an option to purchase with a tenant-buyer. The contract is very clear with plenty of disclosures. It states in no less than three places that if the tenant-buyer fails to purchase or terminates the contract in any way, that they are no entitled to the option consideration (paid by seperate check). The terms were for 24 months, $1300/mo base rent and $6000 option consideration which will be placed into escrow and used as down payment if tenant exercises his option.

This was all clearly explained and my tenant literally begged me for the house. I allowed him to spread his $6000 over a six month period and didn’t charge any interest - nor did I ask for a security deposit (will always in the future). He was fine with everything.

One year later, I get the call that “his doctor told him he had to move for respiratory reasons to somewhere like Wyoming or he won’t be able to live”. Apparently, my house is too dusty for him. He also told me he has been smoking inside the house (specifically agreed not to in our contract) and that there has been an ongoing plumbing problem for a couple months. And, of course he wants all his option money back before he moves out.

The market has tanked in the last 6 months and his doing this is really going to cost me as it will be very tough to get another buyer or tenant. I an willing to offer some moving money, but he seems bent on getting the whole thing. Any ideas? Thanks


Sounds like you did everything right. It’s unfortunate that things haven’t worked out, but it doesn’t sound like it’s your fault.

I think you’re being very generous in even considering to give him moving money seeing as you will now be faced with the expense of getting smoke odor out of your house.

I don’t think you owe him any money back and maybe he just needs to understand things from your perspective a little more.

My question is why are you offering him moving money at all? In fact, why aren’t you threatening the tenant with a lawsuit for damages you will incur as a result of his breaking the lease agreement?

what he said…

What Jparkx1 said

Unless your contract said that in case the tenant got sick he could ignore his legal responsibilities and violate the terms, I wouldn’t give him back a penny. In fact, I would keep the deposit and bill him for the cost of smoke removal. This is business. Put your foot down.

He has a breathing problem and smokes…seems self inflicted to me. I wouldn’t offer him any moving money, first off it seems absurd to do so and second it seems to admit fault for his problems or at least opens you up to him chasing more/all of it. He clearly knew the option was non-refundable so you do not need to give it back. Also, he broke the terms of the lease by smoking.