Landlording & Rental Properties

I’ll Never Evict a Tenant—Here’s Why

Expertise: Landlording & Rental Properties, Real Estate Investing Basics
19 Articles Written
keys on a keychain shaped like a house laying on a piece of wood

I am going to tell you a little-known secret about myself. Are you ready?

Want more articles like this?

Create an account today to get BiggerPocket's best blog articles delivered to your inbox

Sign up for free

Are you sure you are ready?

OK, here is the secret: In over seven years of real estate investing, I have never evicted anyone!

I know—isn’t that crazy? How can that be? I have never had anyone pay me late or not pay at all?

This is probably going to stir the pot with quite a few readers, but everyone does things differently. It all boils down to your personal preference and how you want to run your business.

Some people will serve an eviction notice at 12:03 a.m. on the 10th of the month (or whatever the rules are where you live); others are more lax and don’t even remind the tenant that rent is past due until the 14th—even though it was due on 5th. I fall somewhere in the middle.

Related: Tenants Bailed: Pursue an Eviction or Let It Go?

Are Evictions Even Worth It?

The reason I have never evicted anyone is because I am willing to work with them on a payment plan if their rent is late. I do mean a real payment plan though—I need a concrete arrangement for payment with exact dates.

The reason I do this is as simple as this: I know it costs $900 in attorney and court fees, it could take 90 days (or more) to remove the tenant, and then there is also the possibility of the evicted tenant causing damage to the property upon their exit. I know this because I have discussed the options with my attorney. I’ve also heard the horror stories—as we all have—from other investors.

Now, let me be clear. First thing in the morning on the 11th (because rent is due by midnight on the 10th), I am contacting any tenant who has not paid. I do not let any time pass before doing this. I will call and text them until I reach them. My goal here is to receive the outstanding payment or make the firm arrangement for payment.

man on cell phone at home

Why I’d Rather Not Evict

Nine out of 10 times, they explain that they need until their next paycheck (usually are paid weekly or bi-weekly) to submit the payment. I am OK with that. It is better than paying $900 in fees, possibly losing another three months in rent, and potentially needing to pay to fix all of the holes in the wall that they punched on their way out.

That arrangement (waiting until the next paycheck on “X” date) becomes our plan for that month. No, I do not ask for that promise in a signed, notarized legal letter, but I do make clear that this is our agreement and I expect that it be honored. I cannot remember the last time that a tenant did not make good on their outstanding payment by the end date of our agreed upon arrangement that we had for that month.

I know what you are thinking. Come on, there has to have been few people who have not kept up their side of the agreement, right?

When Generosity Doesn’t Work

Yes, there have been instances when an extension hasn’t worked. My solution for those scenarios has always been “cash for keys.” Cash for keys is when a landlord offers to buy a tenant’s keys back, with the understanding that they will be leaving the property on an agreed upon date. This has worked flawlessly the times that I have had to use it. I have given as little as $150 for keys. I would trade $150 in a cash-for-keys arrangement over a $900 eviction any day.

I invest in what I think is a C-class area. If you invest in a similar area and think your tenants have money and are living any way other than paycheck to paycheck, you are wrong. They do not have money, and they do not have anything to fall back on.

For example, I require a rental application from each prospective tenant. I can think of less than five people ever who indicated that they had a balance greater than $1,000 in any of their bank accounts. My point is, if anything out of the norm in their life happens, like a blown car transmission or an unexpected reduction in hours at work, they most likely will not be able to meet their obligation to you on time.

Related: Alternative Dispute Resolution: Avoiding Eviction Court

woman with hands on face looking concerned, worried, sad, scared

There is a fine line here. You do not want to be seen as someone who can be walked on or someone so easy going that the tenant can just pay whenever it's best for them. My mantra has always been to be stern but respectful. I am not there to be your friend, your bank, or your shoulder to cry on. I am running a business and ultimately need to make decisions that are in the best interest of that business.

It’s worked well for me so far. With this strategy:

  • I have only had three people in seven years of investing out of dozens—if not hundreds—of tenants completely burn me on rent.
  • I have never had a single tenant ever intentionally damage any of my properties.
  • I have never had a tenant ever threaten or even become angry with me.
  • I have earned tenants’ respect, gratitude, and referrals.

The Bottom Line

This sort of experience is one that I think is earned. The respect and gratitude received from tenants is borne from a mutual respect that is earned. The precedent needs to be set on day one. They need to understand that you are running the show.

Whether you choose to do what I do, process an eviction right away, or execute a hybrid of the two, be sure to fully understand your options and your potential costs. Talk to your attorney, and learn how it works in your area. Depending on where you live, you may even be able to take a more effective approach than the one that is working for me.

What do you think about my strategy? What’s yours? 

Share in a comment below.

Ryan Deasy, of Deasy Property Group and RentReddy, is a long-distance landlord currently residing in Houston, T...
Read more
    Dave Foster Qualified Intermediary for 1031 Exchanges from St. Petersburg, FL
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Great article. Your positive, cooperative attitude to others comes through very strongly in your article. I'm certain that your great customer service record with tenants is due as much or more to your personal application of your processes as it is to the processes themselves. It seems like you're striking a great balance between business and empathy without having to get into enabling or adversarial behavior. Congratulations on operating your business with respect and integrity.
    John Underwood Investor from Greer, South Carolina
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I am lucky to live in a state where I can file an eviction for $40 and get a non paying tenant out in about 30 days. No attorney needed. It is rare that I have to do this but an eviction letter will sometimes get a tenant back in line and they can handle the added $40 fee I had to pay.
    Dave Rav from Summerville, SC
    Replied about 1 year ago
    My thoughts exactly. I also reside in SC where the cost is $41 and some change (fee is use debit). Not every state is "$900 in attorney fees plus 90 days".
    Mike Groseth from Liberty Township, OH
    Replied about 1 year ago
    While I understand that it doesn't cost as much in SC to evict someone...what I got out of this article is that sometimes working WITH the tenant(even if you want them out) can be done without going through the eviction process. I have had properties for the last 12 years and have never had to file an eviction either...How I have done this is by making clear my expectations and having a little bit of flexibility when they struggle but always expecting them to communicate to me the problem and the timing they plan to fix the problem in. The 2 times I had to have someone move out we just had a conversation about the fact that it appears they can't afford the home anymore and that they need to move. Both were out within 7 days. No law, courts, and costs were incurred by me. Bottom line I guess I feel that treating people with respect and a little bit of "honey" gets more than being the proverbial "hammer looking for a nail".
    Travis Henderson Investor from Manchester
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Great article
    Wenda Kennedy JD from Nikiski, Alaska
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I too try NOT to evict, but there are times when I must take a tenant to court. Rarely, I have paid people to leave. I can evict pretty quickly and I have a reputation around town for winning in court. Most go out of their way NOT to mess with me. The reason that I chose to settle rather than sue is because I really value my peace of mind and my time. I have learned that a bad settlement is better than a good lawsuit any day. The bottom line is that they'll be sitting on the curb burping and chirping while I have my rental property back. They can cost me some money, which is an inconvenience-- while I can make them homeless, which can be a personal disaster.
    Dave Rav from Summerville, SC
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I believe you are generalizing. Your state sounds liberal and non-landlord friendly. 90 days, huh? That could be a scheme for some to "live for free" for the entire summer. Shame on your system. What a way to encourage justice and fairness. At any rate, I HAVE evicted folks. Twice actually. Though I definitely try not to. Late fees alone make it worthwhile, if the person wants to stay. However, if I need to, I do it. I'm not handcuffed by the "system." Thankfully our system here in the greater Charleston, SC area is a fair one - $40 and about 21 days from start to finish. I feel this is very fair. I'm not in the business of providing free housing. If someone isn't paying, I should be able to engage the law to assist. That is what we pay taxes for. I mean, unless folks should follow marshall law - who wants that?!
    Ryan Deasy Rental Property Investor from New Britain, CT
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Dave, i completely agree with you. You are right about the state i invest in also. It is a real shame anyone can stay even 3 minutes if they have not provided any sort of consideration to the property owner.
    Jill F. Investor from Akron, Ohio
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I have a similar philosophy. I have still had to do one eviction, the guy was a malignant narcissist and was completely impervious to reason. He didn't want to move. period. And I didn't want to continue renting to him. period. It was a good decision.
    Vorice Cook
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I've been a landlord since 2002 and I've only had to evict a person once. My property is in tenant friendly California. I didn't use an attorney and did the process myself. Just the filings was almost $600. I tried negotiating the tenant out to avoid the eviction process but he wasn't budging. Fortunately, he did respond so I was able to get him out by default. I've had one other I was able to talk with and she moved out, without any cash offer. I wouldn't make a cash offer anyway. I'm renting exclusively to military and or Section 8. My properties are in working class and or brand new community. My screening process includes TransUnion Smartmove which gives screening for credit, eviction, criminal and judgements. I also do a home visit to see how they take care of their current residence, and I don't rent to anyone with whom I cannot do a home visit, so no out of towners. I've had applicants pass all of the background check but the home visit revealed how horribly they maintain their home, which is an indication of how they'll take care of mine.
    Nancy Roth Investor from Washington, Washington D.C.
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I thought you had some great insights in this write-up, Ryan, thanks for posting. In seven years I've never had to evict a tenant either, and have sought to work things out for all the reasons you cite. But this year I'm facing a particularly difficult voucher tenant I inherited when I bought the two-unit property last year and for the first time ever I am seeking an eviction in a very eviction-hostile environment (Baltimore City). Fortunately her downstairs neighbor always pays promptly and fully, so once she is out I expect to still have cash flow from the property. Do you rent to voucher tenants? If you do, how does your approach work if you need an uncooperative voucher tenant to leave? I'm not sure a voucher tenant is at liberty to agree to that arrangement because the tenant signs an agreement with the HCVP agency to occupy the unit. I will be checking with the agency, because I would like to pursue that method rather than eviction if I can.
    Charles Rehberg Investor from Athens, Georgia
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Anyone know the rules for Georgia?
    Kimberly Mason
    Replied about 1 year ago
    This post is spot-on! I always offer a payment option and I love the "nice, yet firm" rule as well! I inform my tenants up-front what I expect and explain to them, "I am telling you this up front so if I have to approach you regarding this in the future it is not awkward". I LOVE the KEYS FOR CASH idea and will 100 % be adding this to my arsenal! Thank you for sharing!
    Brent Shields Rental Property Investor from Sacramento
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Those are all great points and I always try them first. However, my dad tried all those things on a tenant who refused to move and refused to pay rent for three years. Then he had to evicted them. Glad to hear it's working 100% for you, hopefully you don't ever run across a tenant like my dad had.
    Neil Aggarwal Lender from Richardson, TX
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Three years! That seems like an absurdly long time to me!
    Tim Hoffman Investor from Rockford, Illinois
    Replied about 1 year ago
    You are training tenants to not pay and just wait for the payoff before they leave. If you think tenants do not talk, you are mistaken. I too, treat people with respect but that is a two way street and not paying rent is a form of disrespect. If they truly had no money and wanted to move and hand the keys over, I respect that and would not evict or send to collections, but pay them to leave sets a very dangerous precedent. Additionally, I believe we as professional landlords have an obligation to others, especially new landlords, to let everyone know who they could be dealing with. Imagine if, while you were a young first time investor, you had an applicant who said they were moving from moms house. Credit shows marginal but not a deal breaker. No evictions, and they don't put down their previous landlord who paid them to leave because they didn't pay his rent. Now they are in your place and the same thing happens. Wouldn't you have wanted to know that tenant had a history of not paying their rent? Again, i think this is a very short sighted strategy that only you benefit from while setting up a long term bigger problem that we all have to deal with.
    Neil Aggarwal Lender from Richardson, TX
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I agree, if everyone started paying cash for keys, tenants will start to expect it.
    Ross Denman Real Estate Consultant from Carmel, IN
    Replied about 1 year ago
    We have a low eviction rate to begin with (about 3%,) but we've been moving to a cash/keys model as well over the last couple of years. If you select decent tenants from the beginning, they are usually embarrassed and disappointed that something happened to derail their normal ability to pay their bills. These are great situations for cash for keys usually. We always demand to meet at the home by a certain day. The agreement is to render possession of the home in a broom swept condition when we turn over the money for the keys. We still have some evictions (for various reasons) but cash for keys should always be an option. I think that good communications and relationships with your tenants are a big part of how this plays out as well. We take over management of tenants who are month's behind from other property managers or self managed properties and can frequently get them on a plan to get caught up. If they are working with us, we can manage/waive late fees if necessary etc. We've even seen tenants able to turn around enough that the owner's have waived some of the past due balance... especially for longer term tenants who have never had problems in the past. Evictions do not do anyone good. Not tenants, not property managers, not owner's. Whatever brings the home back to performance with the least costs... and costs can be extra time off of the market, extensive repairs or damages, holding costs, legal fees, etc. Sometimes it may make sense to waive a portion of the outstanding account balance for a good tenant who you are certain will be fine moving forward as opposed to forcing them out which will likely cost several months of rents.
    Alan DeRossett Investor from Thousand Oaks, CA
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Agree we have done the same over the last 40 years only had two total deadbeats. 1st one with the best job and credit was our worst. 2nd I cut our losses and paid the tenant to leave both tenants had near-perfect credit so had figured out how to cheat or buy new good credit and fake ids. Now I no longer ask for or require Credit info as all have been hacked and unreliable indicators. I now look at a prospective Tenant's debit score. the number of successful rent or installment payments. A Debit score of 36 indicates 3 years of successful rent payments even if the credit score was low. Tenants can establish this will utility and rent payments even with bitcoin transactions or money orders shown to us. less then three years of rental history we may ask for a parent to cosign or assume somethings wrong and decline.
    Joanna Ling Real Estate Agent from Arcadia, California
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Where to find the debit score?
    Catherine Caban-Cardona
    Replied about 1 year ago
    In NYC, to hire a lawyer can cost $1500 .Also it can take months before you get someone out and if they have children forget about it that is be longer. I have never had to evict someone but this month it came close. A good tenant was late it was the 11th of the month and I text them to let them know how much they owed in fees plus the rent. They paid it in a couple of days. The next month comes and she is late again. She told me that she lost her job. I told her to forget about the late fees and to just get the rent. She said that she would pay on Sunday and that came and went. I had to send her an email stating that I really didn’t want to start eviction procedures, I also sent it to her boyfriend reminding him that he is also on the lease. We got the rent the next day. I even offered her to give me her resume so that I can give it to someone in my job. Hoping that this month isn’t the same. If so I will offer a payment plan.
    Dennis Burian Rental Property Investor from Oklahoma City, OK
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Ryan, Certainly some food for thought in your article, In what state are your rental properties? Here in Oklahoma, evictions are not as expensive nor do they take as long, typically 20 to 25 days to have possession. We do our own and are out-of-pocket ~$250. Yes, we’ve done a few. We will work with a tenant that will work with us but, like you, insist on a clear path forward, not just for the late rent, but also getting back on track to on-time payments. If there isn’t a clear and realistic path forward, we’ll make it as easy as possible for them to move but we keep our legal options open in case we need them and we will move them on down the road by whatever means it takes.
    Ryan Deasy Rental Property Investor from New Britain, CT
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Dennis, i was referring to Connecticut in the article. i actually live in Texas though where they do no mess around and will evict very quickly. it has certainly given me something to think about for future investments. thanks for sharing your experiences in OK.
    Kevin Futrell Investor from Port Orchard, WA
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I take a slightly different approach. I've never done cash for keys; it kinda goes against my values. It's a little frustrating to see that it's being done, because of the expectations it now creates for those bad tenants. Typically, I'll draft my own summons and complaint and hand deliver it to the tenant. Technically, it isn't valid, because a process server or sheriff is required to deliver those documents, but generally, the tenant doesn't know that. Then, I let them know that "If I file the eviction with the courts that, Win or Lose, you will have a difficult time finding a place to rent anywhere." Typically, by the response date indicated in the documents (14 days), they will catch up on rent or move out on their own. The downfall to them not moving, is that I have to hire a process server to redeliver those documents, so that they can be filed and we can start the eviction process. The response timeline is restarted. I've only had to evict one tenant in ten years, but that was the result of "giving them a chance" when I knew I shouldn't have. They had a prior eviction and was a friend of an existing tenant. To top it off, they previously worked for a property manager, so they were more familiar with the eviction process as a whole. They are the only tenant who has smoked in my units, because knowing they were going to ride the eviction process out, they didn't care. I also hand the tenant a list of places that will help tenants get caught up on the rent. If I get a call from one of those places, I'll work with the tenant to keep them in the unit.
    Rafiu Badaru
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Very interesting and is nice to be good to your tenants.
    David Asmus
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Great advice! Loved what you wrote. Would like to add a last resort method that works in our area. We have a high numder of illegal workers, often times wind up with 20 people living in a 2 or 3 bedroom house. State gets in our way of getting rid of nonpaying tenants and squatters. Have found that keeping the water in our name, and letting the city shut off the water for non payment of the bill has them gone in 48 hours. We can't shut off any of the utilities ourselves, but the city can. Seems drastic, but it works.
    Ryan Deasy Rental Property Investor from New Britain, CT
    Replied about 1 year ago
    David, wow that is something else. yes, water normally always stays in my name. thanks for the tip. hopefully you do not need to do that too often!
    Joanna Ling Real Estate Agent from Arcadia, California
    Replied about 1 year ago
    David, keep the utility under your name is a good idea. Is this legal to do that?
    Brian McGrogan from Brooksville, Florida
    Replied about 1 year ago
    in my area its $205 for the filing fee $17 per extra occupant and $45 to serve it... then writ of posession (it only goes that far in listen 10% of my cases) is $90... total time is two months
    David Grabiner Investor from Chattanooga, TN
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I'm not sure how many units you have based on your website it looked like 7 or so units. That is a pretty small sample size to pull from and say you never will do an eviction. As you grow you eventually come to a situation that requires an eviction or you will end up with someone staying there for free forever. To have an attitude that you will never do an eviction is eventually going to hurt you. I too like to work with tenants and only use evictions as a last resort but I am fortunate that even with a lawyer it only costs me $350 for an eviction and then they proceed to do collections as well. I hope all the newbies reading this article will scroll down and read this: Evictions are a tool, that may be need to be used occasionally. As a landlord you can not be scared to use a tool. Learn how the process works in your state and don't be scared to use it when appropriate. If you want to or have to use a lawyer go to eviction court and find the attorney that is doing a large number of them, most likely they will have a system down and their rates will be cheaper than a lawyer who just does it occasionally.
    Jim Fredo Rental Property Investor from Pittsburgh, PA
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Great approach. My concern was always the lack of eviction record for future landlords. However, as I’ve discovered, if you diligently contact past landlords, you will get honest feedback (not necessarily from the current landlord, but definitely from past landlords.)
    Rich Williamson from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I have about 20 units and have almost the exact same approach
    Jacqueline PinkettSmith from Phoenix, AZ
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Thank you for sharing this article...it shows the human in you. Reading other comments makes me shake my head. It's more costly to go thru the eviction as a whole not to mention creating another hardship for your tenant, possibly homelessness. They're human just like all of us. You can get more respect, loyalty and cooperation with "honey" vs "vinegar". Yes it's a business, but providing housing is something you should be proud to do, so choose kindness...it will return to you and make this world a better place!
    Crystal C. from Milwaukee, WI
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Couldn't agree more, Jacqueline.
    Jose Rey Realtor from Summerville, SC
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I conduct my business with a very similar approach and I really appreciate your perspective here! I wonder about scale-ability though, I can do this now because I only have 3 units but I hope to have more like 30 or 40 doors 20 years down the road. That's my concern here.
    Charlie NA
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I've been a landlord for the past 10 years. I have never ever raised a rent. As a matter of fact, the tenants raised their own rent. The solution is very simple. Do your homework at the beginning. The tenant's background will tell you the story. Tenants are tenants for many reasons. Tenants are not bad people. Treat them with dignity and respect. I was pleasantly surprised when one of my tenants raised their rent by $150/month. The days of being that "grumpy" landlord is gone. We're all in it together. Let's work together
    Arya Jackson from San Francisco, Bay Area
    Replied about 1 year ago
    This is solid advice, I'm a fairly new landlord and dread the idea of this. But, you make some really good points. I'll definitely be referring to this article if anything happens with my tenants.
    Stuart Hicks
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I employ similar strategies in Michigan. For those who have A problem with cash for keys, I get it. My model is A bit different however. My primary tenant is section 8. When they get behind with their portion, they typically cannot get another voucher due to past balances if we evict and they don't pay. So the incentive for them to pay is quite high. We still have A choice as to whether or not to go the eviction route. We use cash for keys as an option when these situations arise. Paying $50.00 to $200.00 is very small compared to using the eviction process and ending a tenants ability to use the housing voucher program. We typically will work with them to catch up any tenant balance portions and late fees they may owe. However, there are always some who don't intend to pay and won't agree to cash for keys so the eviction process must be used. In our state it takes about 4 weeks or so to complete and the total costs are about $350.00. Fortunately rehabbing the unit in most cases is minimal. The point is I've found that paying A few bucks for the keys eliminates bad tenants cost effectively and moves you closer to rent rolling that unit again much faster. In the few times these issues can arise cut your losses as quickly as you can.
    Brian Michael Kelly
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Thank you for the article. As with anything in life, what really matters is how you treat other people. I have found, no matter what career I have worked in, respect and understanding go a long way.
    Lyndal McMurphy Rental Property Investor from Tulsa, OK
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Weren't they just saying on a very recent BP podcast about how you are exposing yourself to litigation and discrimination claims under the fair housing act if you "make deals" with your tenants that are not congruent with the lease?
    Mila Tokmakova from Dania, FL
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Great article,thanks for sharing! Just want to add my experience , I have been a landlord for 4 years now and last year purchased a duplex. The tenant was already there then I bought the property. I renew the lease and after a few months started hearing a complains . I took care of any problems immediately but tenant still continue to complain about a new problem. Eventually, I haven't received a rent payment and tried to contact the tenant, but unsuccessful . I had to place a 3 day notice on the door ,but this didn't work either. Lastly,I had to file for eviction. Never thought that I am going to do that in million years,but it happened. I think, sometimes no matter how nice you are to the tenant ,how good you are taking care of the property,how fast you respond to their complains - it still not God enough for some tenants . They starting to take you for granted and ride on your back . I learned that you have to be firm and polite at the same time , but you never know what's coming,so just learn from experience and remember that it a business you are running and not a charity.
    Deanna Opgenort Rental Property Investor from San Diego, CA
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I've managed to avoid evictions, but I have had to "ask" several tenants to leave. It's never been for non-payment of rent, it's been failing/refusing to follow rental agreement terms -- extra people, extra (unsafe) dogs, using/dealing drugs, failing to take out the trash for weeks (months) at a time, etc. For what it's worth, I can accommodate any payment date/schedule, as long as the tenant isn't getting "behinder" every month. Two of my very best tenants needed to pay 2x month in order to stay financially stable, which worked out fine.
    Paul Parker Investor from Bedford, Texas
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Great article! I always work with tenants but I have evicted too! Most of the time with evictions it's been after multiple attempts to make it work.
    Chris Leber
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Ryan, I have been at this for almost 6 years and haven’t had to evict anyone or collect late rent ( knock wood) but for a different reason . Good background checks, personal interview with tenants and I basically go with my wife’s gut feeling on perspective tenants. We also engage our tenants and build a relationship with them. I’m not talking about “best friends” but we let them know that if there is a problem or going to be a problem we will work with them. Hasn’t happened yet and Yes, we are extremely lucky but when our tenants have left they generally return the place as clean as when we rented it to them. Bottom line is money isn’t everything and my wife and I have rented to marginal individuals but they have never burned us.
    Robert A. Hastings Jr.
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Wow, I admire your ability to walk that 'fine line', and although we have had a measure of success with our rentals in NJ and FL, there have been a few instances where the legal system had to be employed to remove a tenant. Very different clientele NJ vs FL. Fortunately for us, most tenants that had to leave were either caught up in a money problem or just financially incompetent. We have been spared the outright vicious tenant. Cash for keys has been a successful policy. Letting someone out of the lease, forgiving some or all of the month's rent plus giving them some walking around money when they vacate 'neatly' is a humbling experience for a decent person. I remember very clearly when I had no money. It's best to try and make it work, even if one has to 'finance' a past-due, but help the tenant......on 'your' terms. We are closing on a property later this week - the buyer is a long time tenant that had quite a number of financial problems over the years, but has recently become quite successful, is current on the rent, and has accumulated enough cash to purchase the property at a fair market price. We have also had the experience of a tenant apparently not comprehending (like a fox) that the sheriff was there to escort them out of the house and off the property immediately - they just got up in the middle of breakfast and cordially left - that was in NJ and a couple months of court time, legal expenses, lost rent, and lot's of fixups. Learned a lot from that experience. Much better manager now. Be kind but be firm. Help if you can.
    Warren Anderson
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I enjoyed reading about your strategies. You are more patient than me, I would rather have them leave so I can go up on the rent with a new tenant. I never get top rent so tenants are locked into my units unless they want to pay more for rent and leave. Tenants usually stay 4-7 years. Some as long as 10, I usually ask for $25 less than similar homes. What little I loose on rent is made up on savings from not having to fix up and show properties, keeping a low vacancy rate. I just had a vacancy and got it rented within 2 weeks which is standard, if it is vacant for 2-3 months something is wrong and that is a huge loss. I have had one eviction in 40 years owning properties in 4 different sates singles and multi units. I only buy in states that are owner friendly as it is easier to evict tenants this causes most tenants to pay on time. I haven't had too many late payments, they get charged a late fee.
    Jeff MacIntosh
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I am interested to know just which states are landlord friendly
    Reinaldo Lopez Rental Property Investor
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I like this article and to me it is very close to reality. I have a tenant that is going to 5 yrs with me know, it is a a couple with 3 kids, brother, uncles and parents live very close to them and the both work. They get paid by-weekly and the same scenario you mention happened couple times. There was a time when they ask me several times on a year but after the 4th I show them a copy of the eviction letter i have from my attorney and told them that this can not continue otherwise I will use it. After that they had the ck on the first and no later than the 5th. Recently they ask me again and in advance, after 1 and half years. What I did?, I pick up the ck and on the Friday we agree, I deposited. so far this has not repeated. I have a friend that one time talking about headaches he told me about buying the tenant out, to the point he said that he did give them the deposit plus a little bit of cash if they turn in the apt spotless, and they did, no damage, no concrete into the toilets or sinks, the next week he had another tenant. That was luck I think but it worked for him. I love this crazy but real stories.
    Barton J Howell
    Replied about 1 year ago
    That’s the attitude we’ve used with all of our rentals for over 25 years. We don’t charge interest for the first extension. In one case we helped a family with a rent deposit for a new / Less expensive house. That allowed us to rent to a new family at a higher rent that have been in the house for 5 years and never been late.
    Paula Steimel Real Estate Investor from Dekalb, Illinois
    Replied about 1 year ago
    A long-term tenant, from when I started in this business has been with me for about 5 years. I eventually discovered smoking in the unit, people not on the lease living in the unit (they were helping out a family member), a dog tied to the stair rail to guard the front door, and locks changed without asking. This was all in addition to frequent late payments this year with not paying late fees and telling me that they would bring the balance on Friday when they got paid. There was always a story about not getting home in time to go to the bank, not receiving timely payment for the work they did, not wanting to do electronic payments, etc. There was a death of an immediate younger family member mixed in, so I was not being tough. I calmly explained all was unacceptable and put my own new locks on, even telling the kids what the lease parameters were and how they were violated. I also wanted to avoid the cost of eviction, so I just simply let them know two months in advance that I would not be renewing their lease. I wished them well for their family in the home search. Lucky for me, they did move out, but Oh- you should see the place! It looks like a smoke bomb was placed in the ventilation- black, inky soot all over the walls and carpet in every room. Garbage left behind, absolutely nothing cleaned on move out. I guess they got me, but I am still glad they just moved out. So many lessons learned.
    Jeffrey Bower
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I also never had to evict a tenant, but I also use Tellus to thoroughly screen my tenants, and they are high-quality and pay rent on time. Grant it, it's competitive here, so it's easy to find the creme of the crop.
    Ashley Wyatt
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I’m curious what your opinion on late fees is.
    James Feiden Investor from Davis Junction, Illinois
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Rent is due on the first, late on the second. Five dollars for every day it’s late after the first. No pay no stay. If I don’t get a response by the fifth, I file the evection. I would rather rip my eyeballs out then pay a tenant for bad behavior. If you have lot of units and it’s not process driven your business will fall apart and the tenants will walk all over you!
    Lynda Lutz
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I wish the Irvine Company in Southern CA felt like you. I became homeless because they did not hold up their end of our agreement to pay my rent very late due to a medical issue with my adult disabled daughter. They told me that late fees would be included. I expected that and agreed. I called up to pay and make sure the agent I made this agreement with was there. I had over $2300 in hand! He said he had already sent me to legal and if I had over$4000 I could stop the eviction. I lost everything. All my kitchen wares, bedding, furniture, everything because we cannot lift heavy objects. We are both disabled. I am 72 years old. Because I had to sit in a car with my legs down, I developed a huge blood clot from my ankle to my pelvis. Now, my car broke down and I am in a rental car and this is our last night with any shelter. I have to turn the car in tomorrow. All this mess they caused me, to include a life-threatening huge blood clot. I would welcome a c class apartment. I am a retired RN and have helped many people during my 50 years as a nurse, to include Gulf War soldiers and 911 victims. All I need is a hand up. If any of you have any suggestions, I would welcome them. I can be reached at 949-630-6289. Thank you for listening. Lynda
    Lynda Lutz
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I meant to say thank you to the author of this article. You sound like you are very fiscally aware of your business, yet you are kind, understanding, and compassionate. These things are an unusual and yet most admirable values. Thank you for all of us renters. Lynda
    Aaron Gaffney Flipper/Rehabber from Seattle, WA
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Respect and value in the relationship leading to more referrals! That is an excellent way to do business. And it’s true, especially in a C+ area – most people in the United States are living paycheck to paycheck. Having a landlord who is flexible with that really is gold, especially to those of us of been on the other end! Kudos for sharing this view points.
    Bill Crider Lender from Georgetown, TX
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Treating your tenants well always works because it is the right thing to do. But I think with enough time and enough tenants you will eventually have to evict someone. I have been investing for 40 years and follow basically the same philosophy and methodology as the author. I have a lot more doors, and have had hundreds of tenants. Still, in 40 years I have only had 7 evictions. Some people simply are not reasonable, such as two tenants whose wives left them when they started doing drugs and lost their jobs. The only way to get them out was through the courts. So I never say never. But the sensible process and policies you outlined have worked well for me, and I have shared them with the folks I have mentored over the years as well.
    Alvaro Soto Rental Property Investor from Jacksonville, North Carolina
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Thank you for your article, Great inside/experience. I think whether you live on a state that the laws are at favor of the landlord or the tenant, the key is to make a decision base on the numbers, no with emotions! Obviously those are the hardest decisions to make because ur portfolio/real estate business is your baby. So, making a decision with a calm stated of mind and knowing this is the cost of doing business.
    Clive Davis Investor from Roswell, Georgia
    Replied about 1 year ago
    This is my 20th year of renting. I have a rental in LIC, NY and have never had to evict a tenant. This is perhaps due to the quality of tenants who are typically high earning and can pay what is a relatively high rent, barring something like a job loss, which in NYC at this income level usually affords the let go employee a smooth transition. That said, I would absolutely not, in most cases, pursue an eviction in NYC, which is perhaps the most tenant friendly jurisdiction in the country. As a teenager I recall a tenant of my parents, despite not having paid rent, leading to their eviction, being allowed to stay in the property for something like 9 months and although finally evicted, not having to pay any of the past due rent. I’ve been a landlord in FL (Landlord friendly) for 20yrs and over the course of this time have had to evict a tenant 2-3 times for non-Payment. I’ve also threatened eviction for a tenant who was a an inherited hoarder who came with an acquired multifamily. S/he intimately left on her/his own accord when the writing was on the wall. Eviction for me is always a last resort and your tenants do need to know that you are willing to pursue it if called for. That said, even though I’m a lawyer and can handle most basic evictions myself, I would more often than not just want to see the tenant move on with their life even if they do so owing money. I don’t see me paying them, however, to go when they already owe me money in the form of unpaid rent. That said, I’ve paid for a tenant’s dumpster in an effort to expedite their departure.
    Charlie Velinski
    Replied about 1 year ago
    In CT.being a section 8Subsidizedhere is no way
    Charlie Velinski
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Being a section 8 tenant subsidized landlord that those ideas would work. I've been doing it for 20 years and the system is complex .The housing authority responsible have gotten lax .The don't I force rules any more.Gid help you if you get a tenant from housing not in the voucher program.They have had no boundaries inforced to them.Charlie
    Mario Clarin
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Great article but cash for keys for less then 200 dollars is very unrealistic. I have heard of a couple of thousand dollars but thats my opinion.
    Michelle Fenn Real Estate Agent from Cleveland OH
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I own multiple properties of my own and have never had to evict anyone in 10 years. I am also a property manager for a Cleveland Real Estate company. Cleveland is tenant friendly, if you have a single mother in situ they are very liable to consider the landlord a social service agency. To evict in Cleveland with an LLC requires a filng , a lawyer and payment by the landlord of one month's storage and moving expenses by a county approved moving firm. This is after the 30-90 days it takes to obtain a judgement. In Cleveland cash for keys can save you hundreds of dollars and I do not hesitate to use it. Akron Oh on the other hand is landlord friendly and once it is established that tenants fail to pay rent an order is served. In Akron I have had a magistrate help me tack on missed additional costs I was entitled to and then wrote them up in the garnishment. A difference of just 30 miles directs my actions, with non-paying tenants. Being an old social worker, I am also prone to provide a workout. In fact right up front with new tenants when explaining late fees I tell them I know "life happens" and once a year I am willing to waive late fees on a late rent payment if they call me and explain the problem and their solution to the problem. The next time they are late, I assess a late fee. Tenants that think they can pay whenever they feel like it, are served a 3 day notice and an call from me. My personal ethics are that I would not expect anyone to live in a home I would not live in myself, so my properties are nicely updated and well maintained. My tenants generally do not want to be put out. Payment must be made or a repayment plan in place and then I inform them that they are on 6 months probation. Any deviation from the lease terms or repayment plan will result in a 3 day notice that will be followed up on. Tenants that claim not to know how to direct deposit or get the the bank on time figure out how to do it. We as landlords need to teach personal responsibility, I have inherited tenants that think nothing of not paying or short paying rent, then applying for public monies to make up the past due amounts to avoid eviction. In Cuyahoga County there is a program that pays rent. In the past 3 months I have had multiple tenants with really poor payment histories propose this as their plan. Personally, unless there was a obvious hardship I would be inclined to reject acceptance of this program's monies. My decade of experience has taught me, select your tenants well, do not shortcut on screenings, share your expectations with them and be consistent. You are not their banker, friend of social worker. Finally sometimes you need to do the hard thing, especially in cases of illegal activities or violence at the properties. Keep cash for keys as an option. It is often the most cost effective option available.
    Daryl Luc
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I agree that everyone has their 'own' way of doing things and each state or locality definitely can play into how you deal with your tenants. That said, two things jumped out at me as I read through these comments. 1. Eviction in most states only applies to named signatories of the lease. Anyone else living in the property is a squatter and there is usually an entirely, and even more expensive and time consuming process to remove them. I was personally involved in a Merritt Island FL situation that took one year to obtain the judgement. During that period, the squatter's personal belongings remained in the property because there was a legal exposure if they were removed. Your state may be different. 2. People are psychologically pain avoiders, not pleasure seeking do-gooders. This is called the F.U.D. factor. (F.U.D. = Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. Watch TV. Pay close attention to commercials. They are all, and I mean all geared to this knowledge of how people make decisions. Watch an ad for a cancer medication or an arthritis med and at the end of the ad everyone is smiling, having a great time, their live is good! Why, because whatever is being pitched made certain that they avoided something bad happening to them. Ok, so, if there's no pain for breaking a contract, why adhere to it's terms? Lots, and I mean lots of people don't care what your lease says, certainly what you want, nor do they care if you are successful in your endeavor. Take away their ability to rent a nice place, buy a car or house down the road, get a real credit card or increase in limit...all due to a judgement for the monies owed due to an eviction and Voila, the check is hand delivered within hours. Always follow up your eviction with a petition to the court for the money judgement with interest. File that in the county courthouse and keep it alive until it's paid. This could take years, but you will stop people who care about their future dead in their tracks when you let them know this is how you operate when dealing with people who don't honor their commitments.
    Neil Aggarwal Lender from Richardson, TX
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Wow. I am glad I live in Texas. I can have a tenant out in 30 days and it costs appx. $150, no attorney needed. Yes, the tenant can damage the property, but in my exprience they are more preoccupied with finding a new place to live at that point. I can't imagine these other states where it takes months and mucho dinero. I take the complete opposite approach to this article. I think it is a matter of making your payment a priority. If they get an impression you are lax, they will make your payment low priority. They will still go out to eat and buy Starbucks every morning instead of paying you. As soon as the grace period expires, I contact them. They have to give me a good reason the rent is late and they have to commit to a date when the rent plus late fees will be paid in full. That date can't be flexible and it can't be far into the future. If they miss anything, I file for eviction. If they want to stay in the house, they have to pay everything: late rent, late fees, and costs for the eviction. I usually only have to do that once and they pay on-time every time thereafter. Just like I had to do when I was a kid until my next allowance, they can eat peanut butter or tuna fish sandwiches until they catch up with their bills.
    Barry W Bahr Investor from Tampa, FL
    Replied about 1 year ago
    A great article about your customer service. I hope to provide great customer service to whoever I work with. I don't plan on being a landlord however. I plan to hire a property management company to handle those chores. How do you handle being a landlord so that it doesn't interfere with your personal life especially when dealing with maintenance issues?
    Jeffrey Copeland
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I have a slumlord my mother lived there for 25 something years she has dementia and Alzheimer's so I went in to take care of her for the last two years before she had to go into a assisted livingthey never fixed anything at the house when my mom was well and living there and when she laughs we had mold all in the bathroom coming up from under the tiles and I mentioned it to the landlord and she did nothing about the leaky faucet about the front door nothing so I called the health department and they gave her a time limit to get fixed but in that time she serve me a eviction notice to vacate the property in 21 days.
    Michael Justice Rental Property Investor from Nationwide Remote Wholesaler
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Very good, Years ago I studied the Carlton Sheets investment method, He also mentioned a. Lot of these things and Yes it makes perfect sense to me,You can catch more
    Jennifer Swack
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Landlord in Michigan since 2009, up to 17 rentals. I'm flexible with payment options and understanding with situations that my tenants experience, but have evicted several. I need to use the "cash for keys" option FAR MORE OFTEN! I agree that it isn't necessarily "rewarding for bad behavior", but instead avoiding cost of time and money to process an eviction.
    Nigel Guisinger Rental Property Investor from Salem Oregon
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I’ve only had to evict once in my ten years of ownership but have had to file three or four times. In my state Oregon we have extremely strict laws. But in one case we had a tenant who was on housing that didn’t pay her share. In order for her housing to pay she had to pay. They actually verified with us each month. Her rent was very minimal. Under $30 a month of $1300 a month. She didn’t make the payment month after month and we were advised by her program coordinator to file eviction because it was found she wasn’t living up to other aspects of the contract as well to have the program. It’s was disappointing that someone abused the system so strongly and in the end we had to remove them over this because the program had cut her off under their guidelines. I would have simply reduced the amount if I was allowed because it meant a turn and sitting a month. But the program rules and fair housing didn’t allow that. We have a contract and want to give a quality home at a fair price but there are cases where the tenant doesn’t live up to their side of the contract and the extreme measure of eviction must happen. It should be the last recourse because as the author says, it’s expensive to remove a tenant.
    Sam Schrimsher from Rochester, NY
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I like your cooperative spirit Ryan, and I see the advantage to helping somebody in that way on a case by case basis. The problem is that it might not be allowed under fair housing laws depending on the situation. For example, if you are going to pay somebody a certain amount of money for them to move out rather than go through the eviction process. Then the way I read the law, that needs to be your policy for every tenant. Same amount of money offered under the same circumstances. That could be difficult to administer. So I guess that example is debatable, it might be okay, or not, I'm not 100% sure to be honest. The other example that I hear in some of the comments is a clear cut no in regards to waiving late fees for some tenants depending on their circumstances. Under fair housing, that policy has to be the same across the board. Your either charging late fees to everybody or to none at all.
    April Stewart
    Replied about 1 year ago
    What a great article. I have such an appreciation for the person who knows how to balance professionalism while preserving relational equity; it clearly pays dividends. Thanks for sharing this post.
    Kevin T. from Columbus, OH
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Helpful article! Treating people with respect while balancing business standards and compassion for people seems effective. Thanks!
    Linda Patterson
    Replied 11 months ago
    As a tenant, I ask for a continuance at the eviction hearing, saying that I'm actively seeking legal counsel. That buys 7 days. Then the morning of the new hearing, I file a compulsary counterclaim and jury demand... pro se'. At the same time, I file paperwork as habius pauper (sp). This way I don't pay a dime to file anything with the court from hear on out, while the landlord pays an attorney lol. I escrow my rent so that my rent goes to the court instead of the landlord. Then I amend the counterclaim, to add on a few more weeks. If the landlord fails to file an answer then yay! I file a motion for default judgment and win. ( That actually happened once) If he answers the counterclaim a scheduling conference is set for 1-3 months out. At the conference, I make sure Discovery lasts at least six months. Near the end of the six months, I file a motion to extend discovery. (Meanwhile, I file a fair housing complaint, which requires the landlord's attorney to defend that too. After discovery, the landlord usually files a motion for summary judgment. I file a reply 2 weeks later. Then I file a motion to amend which will take the judge another two weeks to rule on that motion. This pushes his MSJ ruling out another 2 weeks. But before he rules on the MSJ, I file a motion to stay proceedings pending final outcome of the counterclaim. Another two weeks for that ruling - which he usually grants. Now add another year for the counterclaim process to take place. If the judge denys the stay and I loose, add on about 12 - 14 months for the appeal process to be fully adjudicated while I remain in the property, and pay rent to the court instead of the landlord. If the judge rules in my favor, I stay in the property and continue with the counterclaim. The longest I've held up a landlords rent was 43 months. That's just over 3-1/2 years. That landlord finally settled. After years of attorney fees, he ended up paying me damages as part of the settlement. When "I" decide to leave a property, I sue again for the return of my security deposit. I take my digital file of 100+ images that show disgusting the place was at move-in and how immaculate the place was at move out. I win that too. Then I have all the eviction cases sealed and removed from the clerk's website.
    Cathleen More
    Replied 6 months ago
    Amazing. I never knew you could do all that in an eviction.
    James Mauck Rental Property Investor from Portland, OR
    Replied 8 months ago
    Ha! Brilliant Linda! Ryan, I really appreciate your articles. I went back to read this one again while we where having a tough case this month. I prefer to side with grace and keeping relationships than a few dollars. But of course may be setting ourselves up for a wonderful case like Linda explained :)
    Jaharrij Dujoy
    Replied 9 months ago
    Great article. I tolly agree with Ryan. I have been applying this philosophy for 12 years before reading this article. I rent in a challenging market where the systems put the burden of proof and cost to evict mostly on the owner. (My colleagues know it takes months to evict and that's months of lost income.) Ryan's methods work! It's better to collect the past due rent on pay day rather than costly evictions. I let my tenants know firmly up front and in writing where I stand on rent. If they have an issue (and I pray they don't), I tell them to let me know a week before the issue not the day of. I gain respect through professionalism. I have a business to run. I have had 2 tenants with rent issues and I just ask them to leave, no questions ask, no cash for keys. They leave. As for any rent payment arrangements, they are firm and I inform the tenant that I'm still providing (in some cases) utility services for them to live in my rentals and they need to keep their agreements. I'm not taking care of an adult who entered into a binding contract knowing their personal situation. In 99% of the time, it works! I have colleagues asking me, "What is your system?" Just be a bit personable. Life happens. Be firm. Gain respect and trust. Mr. Deasy, I am very interested your systems of management long distance without a property manager. Thank you for sharing.
    Kang Lee from ANAHEIM CALIFORNIA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Great article! Thank you.
    J Pat
    Replied 5 months ago
    Anyone know the rules for Illinois?
    Chris Ganz Investor from Chicago IL
    Replied 5 months ago
    This is a great article and very helpful, thanks for the insight!
    Rebecca LeFevre
    Replied about 1 month ago
    Hi Ryan, great article. We are house flipping right now but about to shift into rental properties. My thoughts have been on how to maintain a relationship with my tenants where I’m kind and respectful of them but don’t lose my authority. You’ve explained how to do that here. I last had tenants when I was in my early 20’s and didn’t know how to manage that relationship back then, but I’m ready to give it another chance. Thanks