Bad renters are every landlord’s worst nightmare.
And eviction may end up costing you thousands of dollars, from several months of unpaid rents and damage to your property—that you end up having to fix after they leave—to eviction court expenses and of course, hours and hours of your precious time wasted.
Undoubtedly, the best way to avoid this toxic problem completely is to avoid bad tenants in the first place. And the best way to achieve that is through intensive tenant screening—including income verification, criminal checks, eviction reports, credit reports, character references, and rental history verification with the past landlords of your potential tenants. Play your cards right and you can avoid a good portion of tenant-related problems.
Tenant screening is beyond the scope of this post as today, we will learn what to do with the small minority of clients that manage to get past your rigorous tenant screening process. We will be taking a deep dive into 5 of the most effective ways to evict problematic clients.
Quick note: If you would rather not deal with these tenant issues yourself, you can outsource these headaches by enlisting the services of reputable rental property management companies.
1. Raise the rent. Significantly.
Your tenants may not actively be violating the terms of the lease agreement, but they may be annoying, nonetheless. They may be driving the neighbors crazy or calling you every day for the most mundane reasons—like fixing a light bulb.
Whatever your reason may be for not wanting to rent to them anymore, you can consider hiking the rent significantly the next time their lease comes up for renewal. However, before you do this, you’ll want to check your state and local laws because some jurisdictions have restrictions in place to limit how much landlords can raise rents at a single go. You also can’t raise rents before the ending date if you have a fixed-term lease.
2. Don’t renew their lease
A pretty straightforward way to deal with the problem is simply not to renew their lease when the term ends. You must be careful here as well; some tenant-friendly jurisdictions require landlords to justify their refusal to renew tenants’ leases.
But in most cases, sending the tenant a polite, professionally-written notice to the effect that their lease will not be renewed will do. The notice should thank them for their time with you, detail your move-out policies (such as a move-out condition inspection), and explain how they will recover their security deposit.
Importantly, you also need to make sure that you send them the notice within the legal time window in your state. This varies from state to state and could be anywhere between 30 – 90 days; check with your state’s rental/landlord laws or have a lawyer check them for you.
3. Threaten them—legally, of course
If you’ve established on other occasions that you strictly enforce the terms of your lease agreement, legal threats can be a very effective way to handle the situation.
You can get your lawyer to draft an intimidating letter to your tenants, threatening lawsuits, ruined credit, deficiency judgments, and collections. The goal is to send a crystal-clear message: they either vacate peacefully or correct their lease violations; otherwise, they will face dire legal consequences.
To sound even more menacing, serve this letter on the same day you file for eviction in court and mention in the letter that you have just filed for eviction. In most cases, your tenant will either fall in line or vacate peacefully.
4. Help them find alternative accommodation
Although it sounds counter-intuitive, this works for two main reasons, among others:
- It makes the tenant feel like you’re on their side and that you care
- It removes one of the main reasons most tenants refuse to move in the first place: where to relocate to.
Show them real estate listings of properties similar to yours that might interest them. Point out services that help people find housing. You can even ask other landlords and real estate groups about upcoming vacancies and recommend those places to them.
That said, don’t ruin your reputation and relationship with other landlords by lying on tenant application documents. Avoid misleading other landlords into renting to a bad tenant.
5. Bribe Pay them to leave
Before you write this method off, take a moment to think: if it will cost you, say, $5000 and 3 – 4 months to effect a full eviction, wouldn’t it be cheaper and much faster to offer your tenants $500 to move out the next weekend? Whether you like it or not, it will be a lot cheaper to pay tenants to leave than it will be to take legal action against them.
An important caveat applies here, though: You have to set stringent conditions for the offer. They must leave the property impeccably clean, just as they would if they were expecting to get their security deposit back.
Of course, you can mix-and-match several of these tactics to get the best results, depending on your situation. After all, it’s said and done, self-help evictions—that is, applying tactics like changing the locks, turning off the utilities, blocking access to the property, etc.—are a no-go area. They are seriously illegal and could send you to jail.
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