New House - Tenant Won't Vacate

7 Replies

Hi Everyone!

My name is Erin and my fiancé and I just bought our first home in Layton, Utah. We did a short-term lease back to the seller so that the tenants currently in the property could stay until the end of their lease, September 30th. Now that the 30th is right around the corner I have been trying to coordinate the transition with my realtor and the current property manager however, this has proven to be difficult. The property manager says the tenant continuously avoids him and will only speak with him when the tenant is asking to speak with me, the new homeowner (not sure if it is a good idea to speak with the tenant directly or not). When I drive by the house it doesn't look like the tenant is making any progress towards moving out either. 

I am starting to worry that the tenant is not going to vacate the property by the end of their lease. If anyone has been in a similar situation or has any advice on how to handle this should my nightmare be true it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Hi Erin - sorry to hear you are having difficulties with the tenant. 

I would review your purchase agreement to see if the current owner made any guarantees about handing the property over to you vacant. It would be ideal if the current owner or his property mgr would handle this for you.

I would also get a copy of the current lease for your records/review.

You may want to discuss with a lawyer about what recourse you have with the seller. Just the mention of a lawyer may light a fire for the owner/property manager to make corrections ASAP.

The property manager should be well versed in evictions. If the tenant stays past the term of their lease they would be what’s known as a “Holdover Tenant”.

You can research online about how to handle a holdover tenant.

You may end up having to evict them and also file a separate suit for damages/cost of not being able to move into your new home - like staying in a hotel or having to put your belongings in storage.

Another option could be “Cash for Keys” where you or the current owner agree to give $1,000 (or some other amount) for the tenant to sign a legal agreement stating they will move out by X date. They should leave the property empty and “broom swept”. Obviously, they get the cash when they hand you the keys. You then immediately change the locks and secure the property.

This may sound crazy, but if you add up the inconvenience of your situation, plus the costs of eviction, plus costs I mentioned earlier, plus the increased probability that the tenant will damage the property out of spite….it makes Cash for Keys sound more palatable. I would insist that the current owner pay for this since it is not your fault they failed to get their tenant out.

Hope this helps and hope you and your fiancé get to enjoy your new home in the coming days.

Best regards,

Ken

Another thought would be having any funds held in escrow put on hold (so the owner does not get paid) until the owner has the tenant vacate the property. You would contact the escrow company to explain your situation and ask about this…or have your lawyer do it.

@Ken Dunn made some good suggestions for how to protect yourself in your initial contract next time, but in your case it sounds like you've already settled and the old owner doesn't have any obligation to you at this point. Personally I would talk to the tenant to confirm that they know their move out date and not rely on the PM to handle this communication for me. That conversation should give you a better idea of whether they intend to comply or hold over.

Side Note: I will never allow a post settlement occupancy to accommodate a tenant - next time just schedule settlement for after their lease is over.

You should have kept some money in escrow until the tenants vacated.  Talk to the tenants and tell them that you are moving in and this is your first home for you and your fiancé.  they probably won't care and want to stay.  Be prepared to go the eviction route.  Be firm, but polite and professional.

@Erin Speer I realize it is too late for this advice, but you should have scheduled closing for October 1, with stipulation the property is delivered vacant. The old owner is under no legal responsibility if the tenant doesn't leave. Their lease back ends and you inherit a squatter. Contact an attorney so you are ready to post eviction notice on October 1. Even if the tenant is moving things out, the notice needs to be posted/delivered on October 1 if they are still there. The eviction process has a series of events that need to take place. 

I realize you have never been through this before, so my best advice is do not believe anything people say, only believe actions. Thread of eviction will motivate people. 

I would also notify the old owner that you will be requesting reimbursement from them for any hold over or eviction costs. 

Originally posted by @Erin Speer :

Hi Everyone!

My name is Erin and my fiancé and I just bought our first home in Layton, Utah. We did a short-term lease back to the seller so that the tenants currently in the property could stay until the end of their lease, September 30th. Now that the 30th is right around the corner I have been trying to coordinate the transition with my realtor and the current property manager however, this has proven to be difficult. The property manager says the tenant continuously avoids him and will only speak with him when the tenant is asking to speak with me, the new homeowner (not sure if it is a good idea to speak with the tenant directly or not). When I drive by the house it doesn't look like the tenant is making any progress towards moving out either. 

I am starting to worry that the tenant is not going to vacate the property by the end of their lease. If anyone has been in a similar situation or has any advice on how to handle this should my nightmare be true it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

 It’s not the 30th yet.  Try not to worry 

IF on the 1st they are not out google real estate Atty in your area 

Call 3 of them ask how much to evict 

Don’t stress until there is an issue.   You will drive yourself crazy as this is nothing when dealing rentals 

My partners are having experience doing Cash for keys.  Hindsight is always 20/20 but at this point you help moving forward.  If you speak with the tenants directly just have the property manager there with you to be a witness so it isn't their word against yours.  Find out what the situation is and what they need to vacate.  they might not have the funds to move.  It might also help to recommend another property that they can move into