Remove tenants before? acquriing

9 Replies

If you acquire a 3-4 unit property and there are tenants there already, what is the best legal method you have done to remove them so you can pick your own tenants base on your screening methods. 

Reasons I ask:

1. I don't know what type of investor the last owner was or is:

2. I don't know what type of method he/she used to pick the tenants?

3. I Want control on who is living there and the metrics I use to screen them but the best return on my investment and reduce overturn and damage to property. 


1. What method have you used?

2. And if if so what plans do you have in place to replace them ASAP?, should you be looking for tenants while trying to remove them?

3. Can I ask the owner before acquiring the property that i need them removed?.

4. What if they don't want to move since the lease will say move on x date?, can they fight it?.

P.S sorry for stupid questions, trying to cover my basis. 

While I can understand the need for control,  why wouldn't you at least see what kind of tenants they turn out to be. If they give you issues you can always evict them or wait and non renew their lease. 

They may turn out to be wonderful tenants and you would have no loss in missing rents. 

You can place in your contract that the property must be empty at closing.  That places the burden on the current owner to get everyone out.

But be aware that they very likely will not accept a contract with that term.

In general, your post alarms me.  Leases are contracts.  When the property is conveyed, the lease obligations are conveyed as well.  In other words, existing leases are going to be binding on you as the new owner.  You do not just get to "remove" people simply because you have purchased the property.

So to answer your questions, yes, they can fight it.  And they will win.

If you really want them out, you will have to buy them out of their leases.  That will cost money, so be sure you budget for it.  And consider whether it is really worth it to you, or if it might be better to simply let them finish their leases and then non-renew them.

I second James Vega; we've bought single family homes and multi-units as you described and had the tenants that came with the building stay for years with zero problems, late payments, etc.  Give them a chance and they may be great!

1. What method have you used?  I waited til their lease was up, searched for another tenant while waiting.

2. And if if so what plans do you have in place to replace them ASAP?, should you be looking for tenants while trying to remove them? My goal is always minimal time between tenants.  I like to have a few days to a week depending on cleaning, repairs, and maintenance that needs to be done.  I find that better quality tenants are generally looking for a place months in advance of their current lease ending, so I almost always show occupied units.

3. Can I ask the owner before acquiring the property that i need them removed?.  You can ask, but I doubt they would grant the request.  The lease is a legal contract after all.  If they are sub-par tenants place your offer accordingly.

4. What if they don't want to move since the lease will say move on x date?, can they fight it?.  You can start eviction proceedings, offer cash for keys, or agree on a new lease.


All great suggestions!. 

What the heck are you thinking? Do you know these tenants are losers already and a head ache already. You want to start out with a 100% vacancy rate just because you didn't screen them? Hope the rental market is strong where you are, and there are plenty of ideal tenants lining up for the place.But the extra expense of lost income is a good thing after all there are no income taxes due on losses. now if they are losers that is a different story and you should have the seller guarantee their rents, etc  Money set aside in escrow or covered in price.

You didn't mention what kind of lease or rental agreement they have/had with the previous owner. I used to acquire units all the time that had tenants with no written agreements (tenants at will). If they are tenants at will, you are (somewhat) in luck. I say somewhat because any move that might involve eviction can be quite unlucky for you indeed, if you are in a tenant paradise state like MA (or, unfortunately, in your case RI).

In practically all these cases, the first thing I did was serve them with a 30-day notice to quit to terminate the old tenancy. For the ones I wanted to keep, I would offer to create a new tenancy, which would be a written tenancy at will (no leases, thanks), and usually at a higher rent, since their rents were all usually below market. Also, I would put the requirement in there for a deposit (with signed statement of condition) and last month's rent. Often, the landlord had failed to collect these or had already used these monies for occasions where the tenant had not paid (improperly, of course, in the case of a deposit). For the ones I didn't want to keep, the 30-day notice got the eviction process started.

For multi-family rentals, keep in mind that often the reason a landlord is selling out (sometimes at a ridiculously low price) is exactly because one or more tenants are creating problems, sometimes very serious and costly ones. It's always a good idea to do a little research (no, a LOT of research) before you close on the property to get a sense of the hornet's nest you may be buying into. If you think it might be so, see if the landlord is willing or able to remove the problem tenant(s) before closing. If not, at the very least have a talk with a local attorney that specializes in evictions to get some sense of what you are up against and what the worst-case scenario might turn out to be for you cost-wise and aggravation-wise. 

Just a few thoughts from an older but wiser ex-landlord.

Keep them and see what kind of tenants they are. You should have got a feel for them during the property walkthru. Just a glance at the way they keep house is telling. Plus, screening is a tool to help pick good tenants but no guarantee.

I inherited tenants and collected another years' worth of rent before they left. Don't pass up money until it's not worth the trouble that comes with it.

Tenants and leases come with the property when you buy it.  Read the RI Landlord tenant guide as it is helpful in understanding how the state laws are specifically in RI.   Use that at least in part to find out what is legal for this state. Also know the fair housing laws you may not get to pick as much as you think.

 Get the rent rolls including length of tenancy and whether they are on time/current with rent.  Find out if there were issues.  Some of the best tenants can come with the building even if the previous landlords criteria is a warm body they do luck out  as mine did.  Collect some info.  I did not qualify the existing tenants. If they were paying and their apartments were in good shape they got a pass until they caused me an issue. If you want them out then I would notify them as soon as possible within their current leasing situation.  Unless you have looked at the place and know they are not taking care of things I would not automatically assume you want them out. Now if you have gone in and know the tenants are filthy or something like that ok. The one clause I did write in was that a relative with undermarket rent had to leave. I did that even when they said that person was leaving since you never know. Also I suppose I would have a current landlord give notice to a non-paying tenant but I wasn't up against that situation.

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