Tenant Removal Advice Requested

11 Replies

Hi all,

I recently purchased a duplex with both units occupied close to the university campus and have been planning on moving into one of the units. 

The tenant that I would like to remove (the front tenant) is on a month-to-month lease that renews on the first of every month. I would like to tell him that his lease will not be renewed for the coming month in September.

 Today is Aug 16. I wrote him a letter and sent it certified mail with return receipt on Aug. 8 stating a 30-day notice (basically saying that he has until Sept. 8th to leave the property). Certified letter was not received yet and it is still at the post office waiting to be picked up. I knocked on the door multiple times and nobody was home. I called a few times and left a message to call me back asap earlier in the week. lastly, I sent an email yesterday and have not gotten a reply yet. 

I was just told by another tenant that he is out of town and has been out of town for about 4 weeks. My question: What do I do? I want to have the unit available by September 8th at the latest. Does my 30-day notice take effect from the day that I mailed it (Aug. 8)? He clearly is just not receiving my communications. What if he is on a camping trip without signal (just sayin)?

I want to tell him that I won't be renewing his lease but have been unable to contact him. Is it my problem or his problem that he is not getting my messages?

Since I just purchased the property, I haven't had the chance to meet the tenant, but I hear he is a nice person.

I'll take any advice!  

Consult Chapter 24 (99%sure) of Texas Property code. I believe your notice will be effective 8/8.

If you attempt to evict on 9/8 and tenant has had two weeks of "notice" his lease is up, he may get some sympathy from the JP. Could be a tough sell.

If it has to be vacant on 9/8, time is of the essence. A couple things:

1). No phone number for the tenant? Can you review the lease and contact references or someone who may know him?

2). When you get ahold of him, offer cash to be out by 9/8. Amount TBD based on yours and his needs.

If you don't need it by 9/8, give him 4 weeks as soon as you get ahold of him. Hindsight is 20/20, but next time if give the tenant a call first. They'll likely be mad either way but this approach (phone followed by certified letter) worked well for me.

You're going to bound by the terms of his existing lease and local laws.  Speak with a landlord/tenant lawyer.  You need one anyway if you're going to be a landlord so now is a good time to find out.  I really don't think you're going to be in there on Sept 8, but an attorney can advise you better than any of us.

If he's truly out of town and hasn't received your notice then its not likely you'll be able to back date the 30 days notice.  Unlikely you could make a Sept 8 date work anyway if you only mailed the letter on Aug 8.  Better to have picked a date like Sept 15, assuming the lease doesn't specify something else.

Have you been able to look inside the place?  Is there still stuff there or has it been abandoned?

I think you are being unrealistic with your expectation that someone is going to be out by September 8th. That's 3 weeks from now almost and he hasn't gotten the notice.

If this goes to court I see the judge letting the tenant keep the deposit and then giving tenant probably a few more weeks to find a suitable place to move to.

Whatever you do you must not impose your will or do a self help eviction because you want to meet this September 8th deadline.

If you planned on moving in you should have had it a condition that the place be delivered with one unit vacant before closing. You should have walked through after that one unit was vacant before closing and tenant has moved out to assess move out condition. 

Plan on best case October 1st. Especially if you do not want to give this tenant any money to move. The plus is that they are on month to month for the lease.

No legal advice.   

Jon thanks for the reply. I did a walkthrough during the sale and saw that he is actually very organized and all of his things are indeed there. I don't think that he abandoned the unit, rather he is just on some kind of month long trip/vacation. University classes begin on August 25th therefore I expect him to return sometime on or before that date. Just that he will really have a short time to find another place and get moved out before Sept. 8th.

 I guess I better look into finding a landlord tenant lawyer. Any good references for one in Houston TX? Otherwise I will just do an internet search a select a good candidate.

"Just that he will really have a short time to find another place and get moved out before Sept. 8th."

Again not very realistic. You need to let go of this idea. I have owned 20 units with tenants. I don't see this person upending their life to make you happy upon returning and getting a short notice to move.

What experienced investors are saying that have years, decades of experience dealing with tenants is that if he moves by your September 8th deadline it is an extreme longshot.

The bigger question is what is so important about September 8th?? What will happen to you after September 8th that is so important?? 

I don't think you are being very realistic, or caring about the tenant. That is a person you are dealing with. A person that has possessions, a need for shelter, etc. You purchased the property and with no advanced notice send a letter telling him he'll have to be gone by Sept. 8th, and you MAILED it on August 8th. Not only that, but you say classes start Aug. 25, so you sent this letter to a tenant that is likely a student away on vacation, and want him to leave two weeks after he gets notice (maybe). You are walking a fine line here, and I think any judge would find that outrageous. If I were you I'd consider offering him cash/helping him move or find a new property or something. 

If you really needed him out quickly you should have had the seller get him out before you closed.  I've been in exactly that situation.  I showed up at the title company (in Victoria, TX) and nobody could confirm the tenant was out, so I drove to the property.  Tenant was still there.  I refused to close and lo and behold the tenant was out right away.

Because you closed with the tenant in place he's now your tenant.  You really MUST speak with an attorney about the situation and find out what timeline you can enforce.  I really do not think you're getting occupancy of the place by Sept 8. 

Thanks you for your advice and experience. I will throw the Sept. 8 deadline out the window in lieu of your experience.

The reason I settled on sept. 8 is because it is the deadline for the 30-day notice. Yes he is a student attending the university, and yes he does have a life and that weighs on my conscience. So just because it weighs on me emotionally doesn't mean that I shouldn't kick him out. He had a year long lease that expired a year ago and he has been living month to month ever since. I don't know his plans and I have tried to find out without success because he is unreachable via phone, mail, email, or at home. How can one issue a non-renewal notice to somebody who is not present to receive it?

There is only so much help I can offer to him ... searching the listings for rentals and offering move out help which I plan to do. I don't want to hurt anybody here.  

It probably complicates the matter worse by me saying that I am also a student at the same university and I want to move in. Classes start on Aug 25. I will be needing a place to stay until he moves out.

Maybe you can have a roommate ...

Just to follow up on this... The tenant moved out on September 15th and I payed his moving truck cost.

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