February 18, 2023

How to Get Rid of Bad Tenants

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How to Get Rid of Bad Tenants

How to Get Rid of Bad Tenants

Most landlords consider good tenants to be individuals who pay rent on time, treat the property as their own by keeping it neat and tidy, pay attention to maintenance issues and promptly report it, and generally abide by the rules.

Sounds like a dream, right?

On the other hand, terrible tenants are everything a good tenant is not. They are always late in paying rent, they trash your property, and in worst cases, they even play landlord by illegally subletting your property.

Sounds like a total nightmare!

Not everyone has the time or energy to deal with a bad tenant. What makes it worse is that dealing with bad tenants can get expensive too! Yes, evictions cost money, and a lot of it. Lucky for you, it need not come to that.

In this guide we'll walk you through dealing with terrible tenants, including legal and creative ways to get rid of them, and tips on how to avoid them entirely.

Ways to Get Rid of Bad Tenants

How to Get Rid of Bad Tenants

When tenants aren't in violation of their lease terms, you can't just evict them arbitrarily.

Landlords can only legally evict tenants on the following grounds:

  • defaulting on rent
  • major violations such as illegal subletting or causing significant property damage
  • expired lease agreement

But what if they're too noisy, too messy, and you even suspect them of illegal activity but can't prove it? You'd like to err on the side of caution and get rid of them.

But how do you do it without stepping on some legal toes?

Well, for starters, you can do it by...

Helping Them Look for a New Place

Helping Them Look for a New Place

Sometimes, when you fight fire with fire, you end up with a wildfire that's out of your control.

An alternative?

Take the high road and kill them with kindness. You can take the initiative to look at similar, reasonably priced properties in your area for your tenants. Outlining the benefits of a new rental can be a tactful way of showing them the door.

Granted this would entail some research and legwork on your part, but it can save you thousands of dollars compared to going through the whole eviction process. In any case, sometimes all it takes for bad tenants is a little nudge to get them to move on.

For a more forceful approach however, you can consider...

Raising the Rent

If you'd like to remove tenants, especially if they're being difficult and their lease terms are on a month-to-month basis, simply raising the rent would do the trick. On the other hand, if they're on a fixed term lease agreement, you'd have to wait until it expires before doing so.

A caveat though, sky won't be the limit in raising rent. Check your state and local laws to find out if there is a cap. Many jurisdictions restrict how much landlords can charge for rent in order to protect tenants from sudden and exorbitant increases. You don't want to get into legal hot water just because you're itching to get rid of bad tenants!

Not Renewing the Lease Agreement

There's a reason why it's said that patience is a virtue. You're better off waiting out a bad tenant on a fixed lease rather than expending the effort (and the cash!) to throw them out.

Once their lease expires, you can simply non-renew the lease. If you plan to do this, just make sure you give them a proper notice so they can find somewhere else to live. In certain states, you may be required to give up to three months notice of non-renewal.

Afterwards, explain your move out policies and give them their security deposit back once inspections are done with.

Unfortunately, there are instances that tenants might refuse to leave on the due date. They might have gotten too comfortable living in your property, or they may have established a good relationship with their neighbors that they find it a hassle to move. Fortunately for you, eviction is still your last resort. To make the move palatable to them, you can consider...

Giving Your Tenant Cash for Keys

An eviction can take up to a year and may require you to shell out up to $10,000 in legal expenses and other costs. On top of that, you're likely to miss out on rental income, and fighting with your tenants increases the likelihood that your property may not come out unscathed after a legal battle. Even in expedited evictions, you're still looking at a month's worth of stress.

To avoid all of these, you can instead offer cash for keys to get a bad tenant to pack up and move out. How much cash they get usually depend on the condition of the rental unit, therefore they're incentivized not to leave a vandalized or damaged property (as is usually the case with eviction cases).

Make sure to have the cash for keys agreement on paper so if your tenant reneges on the deal, you can quickly obtain possession of your property. You can get a lawyer to draft this for you to make sure you're operating within the legal limits.

So you have tried out some sneaky ways to get your tenants to move out by playing nice, raising the rent, not renewing the lease, and even offering them money!

Still, these stubborn tenants won't budge.

Maybe it's now time to consult a lawyer and bring out the big guns by...

Threatening a Lawsuit

Threatening a Lawsuit

You already suspect them of illegal activity but even regular inspections on your rental property turn up nothing. Not surprising since you're required to give them an advance notice, so they have time to clean up every time you come by. For a landlord, that can be frustrating to deal with.

What you can do is let them know the negative consequences of an investigation. To avoid being on the hook for harassment, have your lawyer write a letter to your tenants telling them to quit it and vacate the premises. And if they don't, you'll be forced to involve law enforcement.

This is usually enough to get them to leave voluntarily, avoiding a legal tussle with you, otherwise...

Dealing With a Bad Tenant: Eviction Isn’t the Only Way... But Sometimes, It’s All That’s Left

Eviction must be the last resort when faced with difficult tenants.

It is a costly endeavor and entails drawn out court proceedings that are stressful for everyone involved. However, if all else fails, then you'll have no choice but to go ahead and initiate eviction proceedings against your tenant.

Familiarize yourself with pertinent laws. Or if you're unsure, get a lawyer to be sure you're acting within the confines of the law.

The Eviction Process

Give an Eviction Notice

Notify your tenant that they are in violation of their lease and they are in danger of being evicted. You can serve either of these 3 termination notices:

  • pay rent or quit
  • cure a violation or quit
  • unconditional quit - in case of illegal activity

File an Eviction Lawsuit

If they haven't complied with the notice within the specified period, you can file an eviction through the local courthouse.

Wait for the Judgment

Once the eviction has been awarded to you, the tenant will be compelled to vacate the property. If they fail to do so, local law enforcement may be called to remove them.

What Can You Do About Bad Tenants Living in Your Property?

Like many landlords, you vetted possible tenants as carefully as you could. Unfortunately, terrible tenants slipped through the cracks and are now living in your property. They aren't going away anytime soon since their lease expires a year from now. They aren't committing any lease violations, so you can't evict them because of a breach of contract.

Now you're resigned to waiting their contract out, and you're wondering if there's a way to protect yourself and your property as you wait for the clock to tick by.

Conduct Routine Inspections and Document Everything

It is not enough that you simply look at your rental property from time to time. Take pictures, log any changes, or damages--be as detailed as possible! Sure, it can be time consuming and painstaking on your part, but it would make it tough for your tenant to dispute the charges later on.

Furthermore, if difficult tenants can see how detail-oriented you are, it will keep them on their toes and teach them to be careful too.

Keep Written Records of Everything

Your tenant has not paid rent for three months now? Better get that documented. And no, a phone call following up on rent is not a paper trail. Give them a written notice and a deadline to let them know you mean business. They have to shape up or move out.

If your tenant gets reported by the neighbors for being a nuisance, get ahold of the police report and make a copy. This will help your case if an eviction lawsuit is forthcoming.

Alternatively, if you think dealing with professional tenants is not for you, then maybe it's time to get professionals to do the job. You can instead...

Hire a Property Management Company

Hire a Property Management Company

Getting a property manager can certainly do you a solid.

You'd have someone else looking after your property and screening your tenants for you; let's face it, there's only so many hours in a day, and getting someone to manage your rental's affairs frees you up to do more productive things.

For example, you don't have to wake up late at night to an irate tenant complaining about something breaking down and then have to scramble to send technicians over. Your property manager will also be the one to make sure your lease agreement is enforced and your tenants pay rent on time.

In short, you still get that sweet rental income stream (although you have to share a portion of it), with hardly lifting a finger.

Keep In Mind That Self Help Evictions Are Illegal

You can get imprisoned if you're found guilty of trying to effect a self help eviction. This means you cannot do the following in an effort to force your tenant out:

  • cut off utilities
  • suddenly change the locks
  • intimidate or threaten your tenant with force

Is There a Way to Avoid Bad Tenants?

Cliché as it may sound, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. What's more, prevention is usually free and you don't have to go through the hassles and expense associated with eviction proceedings.

Avoiding bad tenants entails thoroughly vetting them even before you both sign on the dotted line of the lease agreement.

Here are some tips to help you screen problem tenants so you don't run into issues such as late payments, property damage, and neighbor's complaints:

Have a Tenant Criteria

Have a Tenant Criteria

As the owner, you have the freedom to choose your tenants. After all, they'd be responsible for looking after the property you've worked so hard for in your stead, and you wouldn't want them to leave it in a deplorable state.

Set some standards such as a clean criminal record, a stable job, a good credit history, and the ability to pay the security deposit. If they fit, odds are they're capable of paying rent on time and won't commit lease violations to tarnish their clean records.

Additionally, if you really want to be sure, there's nothing stopping you from calling up their previous landlords and ask how they are as tenants.

Watch Out for These Red Flags

The search for good tenants is a bit like dating. You've got to watch out for these red flags to keep yourself from getting burned:

  • patchy employment history
  • foreclosure, bankruptcies, or a previous eviction
  • history of late payments
  • criminal record

But of course, when you encounter these red flags, that doesn't automatically mean that the individual in question is a bad tenant.

Do a little digging, ask a few questions, and you may find that they're just people who went through a rough patch so it's entirely up to you whether you'd be willing to give them a shot.

Final Thoughts: Getting Rid of Bad Tenants

Being a landlord is so much more than collecting rent every month. Before you get that delightful rent money in your bank account, you really have to work for it, and it sometimes entails dealing with the occasional bad tenant who can make the landlord experience a total nightmare.

If you decide that being a landlord is no longer for you, and you find that thinking of sneaky ways to get rid of problem tenants to be so mentally taxing, you can just sell your property to us outright--terrible tenants and all.

Here at House Buyer Network, we are not fazed by problem properties.

Don't want to deal with a lengthy and expensive eviction process? Leave it to us!

Whatever your property condition, we have a buyer for you! Even better, we pay in cash, so you can move forward as soon as possible. Just fill in our form below with your property details and your phone number and we can have an offer for you in 24 hours!

To know more about our process, give us a call at (855) 835-2544 and we'd love to talk with you!

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catherine mack
Author: Catherine Mack

Catherine Mack is a seasoned real estate investor and enjoys sharing her expertise through writing on relevant real estate topics. Catherine aims to educate home sellers, so they can make the best decision for their real estate problems.

She’s been featured on a plethora of publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Acorns, Realtor.com, Apartment Therapy, MSN, Yahoo Finance, HomeLight, and Business.com.

House Buyer Network™ since 2004. We buy houses nationwide. As house buyers, we offer cash for houses to homeowners looking to sell their house fast. Our cash offers are free and come with no obligations. See what we can offer and get cash for your house!

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