As a landlord, there may come a time when your resident feels breaking their lease is necessary.
In Fort Collins, residents have rights and options when it comes to terminating their lease agreement. Understanding when a lease break is allowable can help you maintain a solid landlord-resident relationship while still maximizing the value of your rental property.
So, let’s dive into some of the top reasons to break a lease in Fort Collins.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available in this blog are for general informational purposes only.
Understanding Lease Agreements in Fort Collins
Lease agreements outline the terms and conditions of the lease, including the responsibilities of both the resident and the landlord.
A lease agreement often identifies the following:
Duration of the lease, or the length of time the resident is allowed to occupy the rental property, which can range from a few months to several years.
Monthly rent amount, or the money the resident is required to pay each month in exchange for the right to occupy the property.
Additional fees or deposits, including security deposits, pet fees, or utility fees.
Maintenance responsibilities of both the resident and the landlord, identifying who is responsible for repairs, maintenance, and general upkeep.
Pet policies, which specify whether pets are allowed, restrictions on the type or size of pets, and fees or deposits associated with having a pet.
Early termination, which is important for residents who may need to move before the lease term is up.
Legal Rights of Residents in Fort Collins
Fort Collins adheres to the laws of the State of Colorado regarding the rights of residents and landlords. Residents may take legal action if they consider their rights to be violated. This might include breaking a lease.
Major Reasons to Break a Lease in Fort Collins
Under certain circumstances, breaking a lease may become necessary for residents in Fort Collins. While each situation is unique, some common reasons include:
Uninhabitable Living Conditions
One of the main reasons to break a lease in Fort Collins is if the rental unit becomes uninhabitable due to severe maintenance issues or safety concerns. If you, as the landlord, fail to address these issues promptly, residents have the right to terminate their lease.
A professional property management company will be your friend here. They may have in-house maintenance staff or established vendor relationships to complete repairs promptly and keep the home in tip-top shape.
Colorado is home to several military bases, and some residents may face a sudden deployment or change of orders. Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), military personnel can break their lease without penalty if they receive military orders for a permanent change of station or deployment lasting at least 90 days.
Landlord Harassment or Privacy Invasion
If a landlord engages in harassment or repeatedly violates a resident's privacy rights, breaking the lease may be a necessary step to ensure personal safety and well-being. Instances of harassment include discriminatory behavior or entering the rental unit without notice.
Breaking a Lease in Fort Collins
Note that if a resident decides to break their lease in Fort Collins, they must follow the proper process to minimize complications and potential legal issues.
Notifying the Landlord
The first step in breaking a lease is to provide written notice (at least 91 days for a yearly lease) to you, the landlord. This notice should clearly state the resident's intention to terminate the lease and include the desired end date.
Understanding the Potential Penalties
Breaking a lease before its expiration date may come with financial consequences. In Fort Collins, residents may be responsible for paying rent for the remaining months of the lease or until a new resident is found, whichever occurs first.
In Colorado, the landlord must make a reasonable effort to find a new resident. If a new resident is found, the financial burden on the previous resident may be reduced.
Of course, these guidelines also depend on the lease agreement you’ve been using. Speaking of, when was the last time you read through it? Does it need to be tweaked or updated? A real estate attorney could help.
Or, if you’d like to hand off lease agreements entirely, a local property management company may be your best bet. They’ll have professional, legally vetted lease agreements and can handle screenings, showings, lease signings, and more, all on your behalf.
Mitigating the Impact of Breaking a Lease
While breaking a lease can have financial implications, there are steps residents can take to minimize the impact and ensure a smooth transition.
Subletting the Rental Unit
If allowed by the lease agreement, subletting the rental unit can be a viable option for residents looking to break their lease. By finding a subresident, the original resident can continue fulfilling the lease obligations while not residing in the rental unit.
In some cases, landlord-resident negotiations can lead to a mutually agreeable solution. Residents can discuss their reasons for breaking the lease and explore potential alternatives, such as finding a new resident or reaching a financial settlement.
Final Thoughts: Breaking a Lease in Fort Collins
There are reasons to break a lease in Fort Collins, which is a decision that should not be taken lightly.
By understanding lease agreements, residents' legal rights, and the proper process for termination, individuals can approach this situation with confidence and make informed choices. Seeking legal advice, on your behalf as well as the resident’s, may provide additional support and resources throughout the process, ultimately minimizing the impact of breaking the lease.