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How to Remove a Tenant Without Serving an Eviction Notice

Eviction isn't always necessary, and can take a serious toll on your time, finances, and state of mind. Thankfully, you do not always have to rely on the courts to get tenants off of your property.

A man and woman sitting on the floor, packing books into open cardboard boxes. A half empty shelf sits against the wall behind them, with a medium sized house plant on the floor beside it. The people are wearing jeans and earth tone tee shirts. Both people have shaggy brown curly hair.

When you are renting out a property, your tenant legally has a right to be in control of the property during their lease period. While this enables you to collect rent when things are going smoothly, it can also cause problems when your property situation changes.

There are many reasons you may need to remove a tenant, including but not limited to:

  • Needing to renovate the property
  • Selling your property
  • Bad tenants who are breaking their lease terms

If you need to get rid of bad tenants or sell the property, it's time for you to learn how to get rid of tenants without eviction, if possible. Eviction isn't always necessary, and can take a serious toll on your time, finances, and state of mind. Thankfully, you do not always have to rely on the courts to get tenants off of your property.

Know Your Rights

Before we begin to address how to get rid of tenants without going to court, you need to have a full understanding of what your rights are as a landlord and what your tenants' rights are in regards to occupying your property. There are Federal and State laws in place that protect tenants from greedy or malicious landlords. While you are not a nefarious landlord who is trying to get rid of tenants for spiteful reasons, these laws still dictate what you can and cannot do to ensure all parties are treated fairly.

As a landlord, you have a right to:

  • Sell your property
  • Renovate your property
  • Evict tenants who are breaking the terms of their leases
  • End a contract early if all parties are in agreement

You do not have a right to ask a tenant to leave because you don't like them, nor do you have a right to ask them to leave because you want to rent to somebody who is willing to pay more. You made a legal and binding contract with your tenants, and both parties must honor the terms.

With that being said, there are still ways that you can get a tenant to move out without evicting them. Again, your reason for doing this should always be due to changes in business or unruly tenant behavior and never because of a personal vendetta or larger paycheck.

Communicate The "Why" to your Tenant

When you're attempting to get a tenant to move out of their own accord before their lease period is up, it is important that you are very clear and direct with them. Subtlety is indirect and may be confusing, and it is quite illegal to blackmail tenants into leaving your property. Instead, explain to them in plain terms your situation, what you are proposing, and why.

Give the tenant a direct and clear reason as to why you feel they must leave the property. Here are some examples of direct conversations with clear and fair messaging:

  • This property is in need of some extensive renovations that would require you (the tenant) to vacate the property. I understand that moving is an inconvenience for you, but I would like to change our lease agreement and help you find a new rental within the next month or so.
  • I am planning to stop being a landlord and would prefer to sell this property uninhabited, so I would like to end our contract by this date if possible.
  • Unfortunately, you are continually late on paying your rent month after month. I will be filing for eviction on (This Date) but I would prefer you moving out on your own before that date with no eviction. Let me know what your thoughts are.

When Your Reason is not Set in Stone

There are some cases in which your reasoning for wanting a tenant to move out might be flexible. Maybe they have been keeping pets on the property when the lease specifically forbids them to do so, or are continuously late with their rent payments. If you clearly provide these reasons to your tenant, they may come back to you with an offered solution.

While tenants do not always change, communicating the issue that you are having clearly to your tenant may help both parties work out the problem. If your renter shows that they are willing to reach a compromise because they would like to stay on the property, it is in your best interests to try to work with them. After a serious talk, your relationship might be completely different moving forward, so don't be closed-minded to the idea of them staying if they show that they are willing to change.

Removal Method #1: Cash For Keys

The "Cash for Keys" method is the most effective way to get a renter to move out without evicting them. This method is essentially you paying your tenants to move out. It may seem counterintuitive to offer money to a bad tenant who already owes you money, but sometimes it is better to quickly end the relationship by putting in a bit more rather than dragging it out in the courts.

Explain the reason that you want the tenant to go or the problem you are having with their tenancy. Let them know what will happen if they do not want to go (i.e., eviction, a new landlord will be taking over, etc.) or do not remedy the issue. Be sure to mention any damages they will be responsible for if the case moves to eviction.

Let the tenant know that you are willing to give them a lump sum of cash in agreement for leaving the property. Make it clear that this will protect their credit and that they will not owe any remaining balance. If they agree, be sure to get the entire agreement in writing and signed by both parties. Retrieve all keys, change the locks, and ensure that all utilities have been paid. If there is no damage to the property, return their deposit.

One of the most significant benefits of the cash for keys method is that it is good for both parties. On the landlord side of things, the tenant will leave quickly. It may cost you some additional money, but you will not waste time, money, or energy on the eviction process. You can immediately take control of your property and begin your next steps.

On the tenant side of things, they are given an unexpected bonus. For tenants that have been delinquent on their rent, they can get out of a tough financial situation without any negative consequences showing up on their credit. This allows them to start fresh. Many tenants are happy to take the cash for keys offer under the right circumstances and if given enough notice, so there is no harm in offering it. Even bad tenants are likely to take this type of offer as it gives them an out from a bad situation without costing them future opportunities or legal battles.

Removal Method #2: Politely Ask Tenant To Move Out

If you are on good terms with your tenants or are hoping for them to move out due to changes in your future business model, figuring out how to get rid of tenants without eviction could be as simple as directly asking them if they would be willing to leave.

Offer your understanding and compassion that it is difficult to move without much notice, and do whatever you can to help them in the process. Let them know that you have resources that you are happy to share with them - moving discounts, moving trucks, labor, connections to other landlords in the area, etc... By telling them that you are willing to help make the moving process more comfortable for them, they will be more willing to re-negotiate your lease period to end sooner.

Having a positive attitude in your approach makes tenants more comfortable and understanding of the reasoning behind your request. Your offered assistance will make their move less daunting and give you both an opportunity to be in a better situation.

What Not To Do

There are a few things that you must learn to avoid when seeking to remove a tenant. Otherwise, you could be the one who is taken to court! No matter what the situation is with your tenant, there are a few things that are illegal to do as a landlord without proper court permission:

  • Change the locks without notice
  • Remove tenant property
  • Physically remove the tenant
  • Turn off utilities
  • Harass them by intentionally causing problems at the property
  • Blackmail them

All of these actions are illegal and will get you into trouble. As much as you may want a tenant to leave, it is never right to do these things. While you don’t want to have to go through the eviction process, you also do not want to hurt your chances of winning an eviction case if necessary. Check State and Local laws, or with your lawyer, to see if there are further actions that may put you at risk of a lawsuit.

Avoiding Tenant Problems Altogether

Are you trying to get rid of a renter because they're just plain awful? It happens more often than you think. Over time, landlords learn that the key to avoiding eviction is not knowing how to get tenants to leave, but instead learning how to choose the right tenants from the beginning.

Screening potential tenants can be seem complicated, but it's important that you learn how to do so. Here are a few simple tips about how to choose the best tenants in the future:

  • Call their references
  • Confirm pay stubs with their employer
  • Talk with previous landlords, if possible
  • Hire a tenant screening service
  • Do a thorough background check

When you put more time into choosing the right tenant, you will be able to put less time into getting rid of the wrong one. And that can make a huge difference in your bottom line! Invest in a professional and trustworthy Tenant Screening Service to help you make the right moves with your property. CreditLink is fast, easy, secure, and delivers reports needed to make an informed decision, including a credit report, a national criminal search, and a national eviction search. Reach out to us for more details!

Created on: 03/12/24

Author: CreditLink Secure Blog Team

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