Tenant gave notice and vacated property before lease term (Texas)

This is in Texas. A tenant in one of my rentals called me late February and said he would be moving out the first week of March because he found a better job in another city. Their lease term does not end until May 31st. His wife is a real estate agent in the state of Texas and said is was perfectly legal for them to break the lease, and it was up to ME to find a replacement tenant. I told him that the lease they signed specifically states the following:

Section 28.B
(1) Tenant may not assign this lease or sublet the Property without Landlord’s written consent.
(2) If Tenant requests an early termination of this lease under this Paragraph 28B, Tenant may attempt to find a replacement tenant and may request Landlord to do the same. Landlord may, but is not obligated to, attempt to find a replacement tenant under this paragraph.
(3) Any assignee, subtenant, or replacement tenant must, in Landlord’s discretion, be acceptable as a tenant and must sign: (a) a new lease with terms not less favorable to Landlord than this lease or otherwise acceptable to Landlord; (b) a sublease with terms approved by Landlord; or (c) an assignment of this lease in a form approved by Landlord.

I received the rent for March on March 1st and about a week later, I got a call from the tenant saying they have moved out and will send me the house key via mail “in the next few days.” I again told him that if we did not receive April’s rent on or before April 3rd that they would be late. And, again, he said that what they did was perfectly legal and cited the following Texas property code:

Sec. 91.006. LANDLORD’S DUTY TO MITIGATE DAMAGES. (a) A landlord has a duty to mitigate damages if a tenant abandons the leased premises in violation of the lease. (b) A provision of a lease that purports to waive a right or to exempt a landlord from a liability or duty under this section is void.

I have to admit I wasn’t aware of this particular property code, but my Lease Agreement is the same as the one the Texas Association of Realtors uses, so I’m a bit baffled at the difference.

Any lawyers/landlords from Texas run across this situation before?

It appears to me that even IF the above property code voids the section of my Lease Agreement (which I still find hard to believe), it only means that I have to try and mitigate the damages (by finding a replacement tenant) but the tenant is still on the hook for paying April’s (and May’s) rent if I cannot find a replacement tenant by then.


put a sign in the yard and start looking for a new tenant,if you can’t find a new tenant its possible that you could file a lawsuit and win a judgement,but you should have the deposit, so if they did not damage that covers one month,

I’m in the Dallas area, if the area you are in is like mine, finding a new tenant is not a problem

Turn them over to a collection agent and everyone will be happy. If you find out that the real estate agent make false statements go after their license.

What you have been fed, is a load bologna. They are attempting to push you around. Here is what I would recommend.

  • Tell the tenant you are going to keep their deposit, file an eviction on him (and/or his wife) for non-payment of April rent, and that they need to pay you the rent from the remainder of the lease immediately. The part of the law they quoted you doesn’t make sense considering they skipped out on a lease. They are just looking for something to scare you into letting them walk away.
  • In the meantime, get the place cleaned up, change the locks and attempt to lease out the house. Take photographs (date-stamped preferably) showing the property was abandoned on X date - mid-March basically - before the lease ended.
  • Go to eviction court in early April, and file an eviction on those pieces of trash. It should be easy to get a judgement for non-payment of rent. If you have re-leased your property before then, then get a judgement for violating the terms of your lease, again very easy to do especially if they moved out of state. Texas is very pro-landlord, and those losers need to have their credit messed up for what they did to you.

Good luck!

This is exactly what I would to too.

On a personal note, a person that comes to me in advance and talks about their situation with enough time to rent it to somebody else should be able to find a way to make it seamless or next to seamless where you don’t have lost income. I generally try to work with people that want to work with me. I’d stick a for rent sign in the yard and tell the tenant that if I find a qualified person I’ll let them out of their lease. In my area that is easy. In exchange they’ll maybe pay a fee for my time to lease, make it clean and help with showings, etc.

On another personal note, you should have found this out in advance. My lease required renewal 90 days in advance or the thing gets a for rent sign in the yard. My lease that is up May 31 is already rented.

That is what I would do also except for one thing. If I find a tenant before I eat up their deposit I would give them any that is left back (most deposit is 1 month rent and so it will take at least that to find a replacment) I always do the eviction to get it on their record and move out on NTN.

you’re getting good advice here. they do not have the legal right to break the lease. they can pay you the rent and move out, sure. but they owe you the rent.

like others have said, file the eviction notice (if you don’t know that process, learn it… it’s simple, but you need to follow it.)

most real estate agents are not experts in real estate or real estate law.

Sec. 91.006. LANDLORD’S DUTY TO MITIGATE DAMAGES. (a) A landlord has a duty to mitigate damages if a tenant abandons the leased premises in violation of the lease. (b) A provision of a lease that purports to waive a right or to exempt a landlord from a liability or duty under this section is void.

This section does not give the tenant the right to break the lease. It states that the landlord must make a reasonable effort to re-rent the property to mitigate the damages (cost) to the tenant. Here in Colorado, we must try to rent the property, and once the property is rented, the lease-breaking tenant is no longer responsible for the rent. However, until it is re-rented, the lease-breaking tenant is still responsible.