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How to Legally Get Rid of Bad Tenants Without Eviction


If you’re in the property management game long enough, you’ll eventually encounter a nightmare tenant who doesn’t seem to have any respect or decency. But because the eviction process can be expensive and drawn out, you don’t necessarily want to file for a formal eviction. Instead, it’s in your best interests to quickly, quietly, and legally get rid of them.

Dealing with problem tenants is probably the single worst factor of being a landlord. It’s time-consuming, expensive, and frustrating. It makes you think you might not be cut out for real estate investing. But don’t let it run you off!

There are legal ways to get rid of bad tenants without going through the eviction process. Hopefully the following tips get you moving in a positive direction:


Avoid Sneaky Ways to Get Rid of Bad Tenants

There are a lot of articles online that describe so-called “sneaky” ways to get a problem tenant to move out. As a responsible landlord, we believe it’s better to be direct with tenants. Things will go much smoother.

Also, before you start planning to get rid of a bad tenant, always remember to abide by the Fair Housing Laws and never discriminate against them or use intimidation.

Refuse to Renew the Lease

If it’s nearing the end and you have the patience left, the most straightforward way to end a tenancy is to simply refuse to renew the lease when it’s up for renewal.

If the tenant is causing you headaches and stress, this can be an effective way for both of you to move on. Just be sure to provide proper notice to the tenant in accordance with local laws and the lease agreement.

Raise the Rent on Bad Tenants

If you want a more subtle approach, you may want to let the tenant know as soon as possible (at least 60 days) that you plan to raise the rent to the maximum allowed by law (you don’t need to mention it’s the most allowed by law, but keep in mind the housing laws that govern rent increases).

Be sure to approach the tenant and let them know why you plan to raise the rent and let them know you will be raising it at the end of the lease. Let them know that you can’t be certain how much you’re going to increase it because it will depend on the current rental market at the time.

This could convince the tenant that it’s time for them to start looking for another place to live and to plan on moving out when their current lease ends.

Pay the Tenant to Move Out

In some cases, it may be more cost-effective and better for your stress levels to pay the tenant a lump sum to move out. It seems like a favor to them and allows you to find a better tenant.

If the tenant is causing problems or property damage, offering them a tenant cash buyout to move out may be the quickest and easiest solution. This method of getting rid of bad tenants is also known as “cash for keys.”

This can be especially useful if the tenant has already violated the lease agreement, as the threat of eviction provides a clear incentive for them to choose to take the cash instead.

The amount of money you pay to get your tenant out of your rental property is up to you. A good rule of thumb is to cover their moving costs.

Be sure to document everything and get signatures.

Conduct Routine Inspections

Conducting inspections can help ensure that the tenant is following the terms of the lease agreement and can also serve as a deterrent for bad behavior.

As always, you must be in compliance with the law and give your tenants at least 24 hours’ notice before entering the property.

During these inspections, you can identify any issues with the property, such as property damage or maintenance needs, and look for evidence of illegal activity.

However, it is important to remember that your tenant has the right to quiet enjoyment and excessive inspections could violate this right. Frequent drive-by inspections are allowed, though.

Hold Off On Improvements

If the tenant is causing damage to your rental property, you may choose to hold off on making any improvements (fixing holes in the wall) or performing inconsequential repairs (fixing a dryer) until they vacate the property.

This method does tiptoe along a thin line, though. As a landlord, it is your responsibility to provide a habitable place to live. So, if there is serious damage that makes the property dangerous or unlivable, then you must fix it in a timely manner.

Bring Up Possible Eviction

If the tenant is not following the terms of the lease agreement, letting them know that eviction is a real possibility can be a powerful motivator for them to start looking for a new place to live.

This can be especially useful if the tenant is consistently late with rent payments or is causing damage to the property. However, it’s important to follow proper eviction procedures and to consult with a local attorney to ensure that you’re following all local laws and regulations.

Be sure to keep it civil, but let them know you’re serious about it. Explain to them the consequences of having an eviction on their record.

How to Avoid Bad Tenants in the First Place

Of course, the best way to deal with bad tenants is to avoid them altogether. As any self-managing landlord knows, this isn’t always as simple as it sounds. Even if a tenant has no criminal background and a decent credit score, they can still wind up being terrible tenants.

Thoroughly Screen Tenants

Thorough tenant screening is a crucial step in avoiding bad tenants.

During the tenant screening process, you should review the prospective tenant’s background, criminal history, and credit reports.

Additionally, check the applicant’s rental history, including any previous evictions or late rent payments.

If they pass all those checks then you need to speak to their references, current employer, and previous landlords. A fellow landlord will be glad to tell you whether they’d rent to that tenant again or not.

Month-to-Month Lease Agreements

Using a month-to-month lease agreement instead of a long-term lease can provide you with more flexibility and control over your rental property.

This type of rental agreement allows you to terminate the tenancy more easily if the tenant is not following the terms of the lease or if they are causing problems.

However, be sure to follow local real estate laws regarding notice periods for terminating month-to-month leases.

Work with a Reliable Property Management Company

If you want to avoid problem tenants (and dealing with tenants altogether), then working with a property management company will make your life much easier. You’ll never have to worry about terrible tenants again.

Overland Management, takes over all the work while you simply receive rent checks.

We handle all aspects of rental property management, from getting your property rented to great tenants to making sure they pay rent on time and respect the lease. All the while, saving you money on expert property maintenance and property management fees.

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