Evicting Your Tenants without Using a Forklift

by | BiggerPockets.com

I recently came across a headline which read, “Man Charged With Attempted Murder in Forklift Attack.” Apparently, the guy was a landlord who had some tenants in a mobile home who weren’t paying rent. He tried to get them to leave the home but they refused. That’s when he drove a forklift into the home over and over to see if this method of eviction would work a little bit better. It did not, and now the man is sitting in jail.

For a Step By Step Free Guide to Evicting a Tenant, Be Sure to Read How to Evict a Tenant

Now, as a fellow landlord, I can understand his frustration and I believe people who don’t pay rent and still want to stay in the house are the scum of the earth. However, I do realize that people run into hard times and I have had that happen with tenants over the years. Luckily, in these situations my tenants have moved out when they couldn’t pay rent and I didn’t have to evict them or go through any hassles.

Of course, the key to avoiding tenant problems is never letting deadbeat tenants into your property in the first place. Obviously, this is easier said than done and does take a good amount of discipline. For example, I recently had a tenant move out of one of my properties. This time of the year is not an ideal time to find a good tenant because people who move during November and December usually have a lot of “flaws” on their rental applications.

Avoiding Tenants with A History of Evictions

Already, I have seen multiple applications and every single person had an eviction in their past. No matter what, I will never let a person who’s been evicted, live in one of my properties. Thankfully, I have finally found a person who is moving into the area for a new job and they meet my criteria.

The thing is, if for some reason this person or any of my current tenants stops paying rent I will follow my usual procedure and will never do anything illegal or foolish like the guy above. His was an extreme example, but often I will hear investors say they are going to change the locks on tenants or remove their furniture or any number of things which will get them in a world of trouble – self-help evictions.

The next time your tenants stop paying rent do this:

First, if rent is not received by the 5th of the month send out a Pay Rent or Quit Notice. Usually, this cures any problems and you’ll get a call letting you know rent is on the way. If this does not solve the problem, you need to go over to the property in person.

Do not go over there to start a fight and don’t be confrontational in anyway. Go over there as someone who is trying to help them out and who wants to see them avoid further problems. For instance, when you go to their house and they tell you that they won’t be able to pay rent anymore, you need to tell them that you have a good solution for them. They need to be out of the house within two weeks and the house needs to be in broom clean condition.

If they’re out of the house in this timeframe you will not sue them for the past rent and you will not try and garnish their wages and cause a whole lot of legal problems for them.

Believe it or not, most tenants are reasonable and will move out within this time frame and you won’t have to go through with an eviction. But what if they won’t agree to this? Then you do everything in your legal power to get your money out of them and make them regret being dishonest with you.

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Photo: Les Chatfield

About Author

Jason R. Hanson is the founder of National Real Estate Investor Month and the author of “How to Build a Real Estate Empire”. Jason specializes in purchasing properties “subject-to” and has purchased millions of dollars worth of property using none of his own cash or credit.


  1. Jason,

    Here are a few steps I use to help find and select quality tenants:

    1. Provide clean and fresh housing.
    2. Professional advertisement. Depending on how you advertise your properties you should always keep a professional appearance. I believe your dirt bag applicants will increase if you can’t or won’t take the time to write a clear advertisement and display a neat sign at the property.
    3. Do Not Accommodate. I think this is most important. Once you have a hand full of interested applicants to rent your property avoid bending over backwards to get a complete application or to accommodate someone that doesn’t show up on time or can’t make a decision. Applicants that are truly interested in renting the property will complete the application quickly and respect your system.


    • Frank – I agree with you completely. Do your best to week out the irresponsible ones on the front end.

      I used a similar tactic when I had a home inspection company. I always asked for a resume and a handwritten cover letter. I needed to see their handwriting; to see if they could write a report legibly and intelligently. When I opened the envelope and found a typed cover letter, I threw it into the trash withour reading it. If they couldn’t follow one simple request, I knew I was in for a rough ride with this person as an employee.

  2. K Michael Fishbaugh on

    Great Article and great idea!! I am one who wants to change my ways and help people in need but to try and take advantage of me or just be ungrateful, well the 2 weeks to get out and be in broom clean condition, and if not….then make them regret the day they did this….if we all did this, maybe there will be less rent deadbeats out there.

    • How about dead beat investors. You know they take your down payment money and don’t go through with the deal. Then turn it around on you saying you are harassing me for your deposit money. Sounds like a scam right? Well that’s what happened to me thanks to k.Michael Fishbaugh. Stay away from this one!!

  3. I have one more suggestion. Cash for keys.

    As hard as it is to swallow, it’s a whole lot cheaper to give them a couple hundred dollars to move and leave the house in good condition (if they won’t move on their own) than to go through the mess of evicting them and repairing a trashed house. Sometimes they just need a little additional “motivation”, but I only used this as a last resort.

  4. Last thing you want to do is cause an issue with someone who is on the down low. Odds are they will trash your apartment, most of them figure they have nothing to lose anyway, can’t sue them for money that they don’t have. Garnished wages seem to shock the few people I’ve had to take to court. Seems like its something that is rarely considered.

  5. I made a terrible mistake when I did not run a credit check on an older man who answered an ad on Craigslist. I rented my beach house for 4 months in the winter to a 63 year old man with a dog. He was a dishonest con artist and in my opinion a criminal. He had a failed construction business and had judgments, fined by the consumer protection agency of Ocean County, and filed 2 bankruptcies. After 10 weeks living in my beautiful home, ocean block, he filed his third bankruptcy. He paid one month rent, moved in his 19 year old ill mannered daughter, enjoyed sleeping in my bed, watching my TV on my comfortable furniture while using my dishes, pots, pans, coffee pot, toaster, washer, dryer, etc… He has changed the locks to my basement that is separate from the house. I now can no longer get to my bikes, water my large plants, use my outdoor furniture, get out my garden supplies, extra sheets, towels … that is stored in a locked room in my basement. This man has legally taken over my home and most of my possessions, legally. I pay gas, electric, water, taxes, insurance, mortgage, internet and cable. He stopped my mail by telling the mail carrier that I moved away and left no forwarding address. The Seaside Park police have been called by my tenant ON ME four times. My tenant is a professional and probably had this takeover planned. The Seaside Park police played into his hands beautifully. I have been charged with entering my own basement, the lease clearly gives me permission to enter. My tenant told the police I entered my house and surprised his daughter, which was not true. I had a security camera showing me ringing the doorbell and talking to his daughter who refused to close the front door in January. I was trying to reason with her to close the door because I pay for the heat. Instead of the police asking to see and listen to the recording, I was charged with entering the house which was totally false. If this story is hard to believe, I agree. I cannot believe it either.
    The newest bankruptcy lists many of the people this deadbeat has stolen money from. I have contacted a few of them, and the stories are all the same. Started a job, tore up a yard or driveway or porch, took thousands of dollars, got sued, lost and ran to Florida, came back from Florida, filed bankruptcy. He needed to hide in Florida for about a year because bankruptcy is only allowed every 7 years. The laws need to be changed. Enough. My friends tell me I am not being sensible. I should offer this criminal money to leave. $1000 $2000 or even $5000. Does anyone else see what is wrong with this? Gail

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