Tenant wants to terminate before moving in..please help

My tenant signed 1 year lease last week. she paid security deposit and application fees. I have deposited both the cheques.
she was going to move in this weekend. Now she wants to break the lease , says father is diagnosed with lung cancer.
she is asking me to deduct 1 week rent alone. What am I legally allowed to do? I lost other tenants due their lease and I won’t be able to rent in a week.
Please let me know your thoughts.

I was under the impression the tenant does not get the deposit back if they break the lease.

This is an area where you probaly need to have a little compassion…

I would chek the property to make sure that she has not moved in or done any damage and let her break the lease.

Trust me, the word will get around and your compassion will pay dividends…this is not to say that you need to fall for every ‘song and dance’ but if this is valid, I would let her go.


Whenever someone breaks the lease, there is always a “good” reason. I would let her out of the lease but I would take some consideration because of having the property off the market. Assuming the property is still in pristine condition and I am able to get another tenant in the property within 2 weeks I would say no harm no foul and take her offer of 1 week. But if it takes more than 2 weeks I would keep that second week. But that would be all I would be the most I would take from her.

i agree with kdhastedt … he father has cancer … take her offer of one week rent and let it go …

little story:
I have a friend with 4 rental properties, one of them rented to a lady who lost her job becasue she had cancer and too weak to work … she was unable to pay for 7 months until the govermrnt took over the rent … what was my friend to do? kick her out on the street?


I don’t believe ANYTHING that I am told by a tenant or potential tenant. TENANTS LIE (big and often)! I have heard more sob stories than I could possibly count and in EVERY case it was a LIE. One tenant told me his car needed a transmission - the truth was that he bought a $400 dog. Another tenant told me his parents were in desperate trouble and needed his financial help - he bought a big screen TV. TENANTS LIE! I kicked out a tenant last month who didn’t pay the rent because she bought a fancy cellphone! Tenants have completely different priorities that you or I!!!

Do you have any reason to believe this person? Even if her father has cancer - what does that have to do with her lease? Maybe he has cancer, but maybe he has had it for several years. Is she moving out of state? Maybe, but I doubt it. Tenants only think about 2 minutes in the future. Chances are that she found another place she likes better. In any case, don’t let someone else’s problem become your problem.

What should you do? Personally, I’d keep the security deposit and allow her to break the lease. Legally, you could probably insist on damages for the entire period that the unit remains unrented.

Anytime I hold a rental, I make the person sign a form entitled “Deposit to Reserve Rental Unit”. This form tells the applicant that their deposit is NON-REFUNDABLE for any reason and that they will lose it unless the rent is received in full prior to their move-in date. I have had several people change their mind and I kept their deposit in every case (regardless of their excuse).

Good Luck,


I have to agree with Propertymanager. If you wanted to be a nice guy, tell her that you will market it ASAP. Use her deposit to cover the gap. If her deposit doesn’t cover the gap until you find another suitable tenant, then I would just let her break the lease. If her deposit covers more than the gap, pro-rate it and refund her the difference.

MIke is right on. But I would check with a local real estate lawyer in your area to see what the law says about a person that never moves into the property. You can probably keep the security and maybe the 1st month rent. Now if she says shes moving to another state or out of town to live with her ill father and can show proof (tickets) then you can be nice and tell her once property is rented, you will prorate her the loss income while vacant but dont give the security back.

Thank you for all your responses. I don’t buy my tenant’s story.
Reason - she is already living with her father in the same area for past 5 months. she called me previous day afternoon to get mail box keys. The next day morning 9am I am hearing this terrible disease.
Once a liar is always a liar. I’ll terminate her lease but withheld security deposit alone.

Hi again,
I have been trying to work something out with my tenant. She might have a potential new tenant, but wants to lower the rent from $1200 to $1100, if I sign a two year lease. I was actually thinking of maybe selling at this point, since it is in West Palm Beach area, and it is negative cash flowing. I know the selling market is slow, but so is the rental mrkt. Am I better off just selling at a discount than locking myself in a two year lease at a low price of $1100? I am thinking of offering a lease/option to the new person, maybe that is a happy median? What do you think?
Thanks for the support, this is a great website with great folks willing to help each other.
REFLA 8) ???