What is the vacancy provision?
A vacancy provision is a term used in real estate law that refers to a clause in a fixed-term lease agreement that states what will happen if the tenant moves out before their lease is up. If a tenant moves out early, the tenant might be subject to penalties such as paying back part or all of the rent owed up until that point or finding and securing a new tenant as quickly as possible. A vacancy provision can also allow for one or more of the leased premises to be temporarily vacant without penalty.
The purpose of this clause is to provide a measure of flexibility for businesses in case their needs change over time. For example, a business may need to vacate part of its space for a brief period, but still want to honor its lease agreement. In this case, the vacancy provision would allow them to do so without penalty.
When a property is leased, the terms of the lease state how long the tenant may occupy the space. If they move out before that time is up, they may be subject to penalties. A vacancy provision allows landlords to recoup some or all of their losses in this situation by finding a new tenant as quickly as possible.
This clause is also known as an early termination penalty or liquidated damages clause.
The vacancy provision is important to both landlords and tenants. For landlords, it provides them protection from losing money if they have a hard time finding a new tenant. For tenants, it ensures they won’t be punished for an unforeseen event such as losing their job or having to move due to family reasons.
Vacancy provision case study
Let’s say you sign a one-year lease for $600 per month in rent and your landlord has included a vacancy provision.
You decide to move out after six months instead of staying for the full year, so now it’s time to find someone new. Your landlord can then go ahead and re-rent the property at the market rate (which is now $700). However, if your landlord couldn’t find the next tenants with reasonable efforts, then the landlord would send you or your old roommate(s) a bill for the remaining six months of rent, plus any damages that may have occurred while you were living there. Vacancy provisions are typically only used when tenants leave before their lease ends, though, so don’t worry too much about having to pay this extra money back if you move out at the end of your lease agreement.
Another situation would be if you have a six-month lease and move out after three months. The landlord can only re-rent the property at a rate that is lower than what you originally agreed to. So in this case, they may only be able to rent it for $450/month instead of the $700 that the property is currently being rented for and you will be responsible for the difference.
The bottom line
Vacancy provisions allow landlords to re-rent the property at market rent if the tenant moves out or is evicted before their lease is up. This protects the landlord from losing money and helps maintain control of rental prices. The downside for tenants is that they may have to pay more if they move out early, and it can make it harder to get out of a lease. Vacancy provisions vary from lease to lease, so be sure to read yours carefully.