Tenant is not leaving after lease end. Eviction time! Any tips?

21 Replies

My awful tenants in Hawaii have had a last-minute drama. Over the past 4 months they have incurred numerous HOA violations, the police breaking up fights about 2-3 times a week, flooding of my kitchen causing $6,000 of damage, and general living-like-pigs.

I got them to sign a Quit & Vacate agreement to terminate the lease early and move out July 31. In a last bit of drama, a few days ago the wife ditched and left with all the money, and the deadbeat husband has said he has no money, no job, and he's not leaving my property.

So, it's eviction time.

I contacted a lawyer and he wants between $3,500 and $6,500 to represent me. I talked with the state landlord-tenant hotline and they said I can just file the eviction myself and represent myself. The form is very simple, and the procedure looks surprisingly straight-forward.

For anyone who's done an eviction, especially with a tenant who has dug in his heels and refuses to leave -- Any tips?

Oh, got a few extra questions: With the lease ended July 31 (in a few hours), I am thinking of switching off the Internet to the tenants, disabling the thermostat (no air-conditioning), and disabling DirecTV. I can do all those remotely. I know I cannot turn off water or electricity on the tenant, but how about these amenities which were included with the lease (remember, the lease expired today, July 31, and the tenant is in holdover). OK to turn those off? Bad idea?

I read several of your stories on this property and I feel bad for you man.  I honestly dont know what I would do.  His name is on the lease so you can keep the security deposit at least.  Maybe the wife will complain and try to get him out because she wants her half of the deposit back.  

As far as the utilities I never had to deal with an eviction, but I always hated that rule about having to leave those on because as a homeowner if you don't pay then they would shut them off on you, so why cant you do the same for tenants.  As a landlord you are just a middle man for this, doesn't make sense to me but it is what it is.

If you cut those things there is more of a chance that he will intentionally damage your property.  He has nothing to lose no money no where to go so even if you cut those amenities he still has no place to go and will just squat there.  In the event that you do try to sue him for damages and win, what money will he have to pay you?  

$3,500 - $6,500 for an eviction is crazy.  There are flat-rate attorneys who charge a few hundred dollars to do the same thing.

Aloha Scott,  i detailed my first eviction in 40 years of landlording and it was in Honolulu.  I tried to search but couldn't find it.  I filed the paperwork (needed the 5 day or quit letter) and needed to serve.  I staked them out and as soon as I saw one coming home went to the bar around the corner and paid a guy $40 to hand them the paper.  Professional server would have cost more and taken more time.  Next day I got a court date about 5 days out.  One tenant showed to court almost too late.  Complained to court that She had issues with me so he set court date about 20 days later.  I ask if I'm getting my writ of possession and he says sure.  I have writ and have to serve it.  I ask if sheriffs need to be involved and they say I just need a third party.  My new buddy from BP that I'm meeting first time says he'll hand it to them.  He does and I tell them I'll give them 30 minutes.  They go off and call HPD.   HPD comes and tells me I need the sheriff.  I show them where it says any officer of the court.  If they want to refuse OK I'll let the judge know.   Professional server would be a few hundred dollars take up to a week and they would give tenants three days to leave.

HPD bosses are called in trying to figure out whats what.  I started out as bad guy but slowly became good guy.  Tenants called boss who was Pearl Harbor boss.  Police negotiated them(boss) giving me a $3000 check to leave at later date.  I was pissed and really wanted to see them forced out but money talks so I agreed.  Got the check they still tried to collect the deposit.  They left on set date.  I'm paid up plus security.  At court I agree to not pursue the rest of the lease about 5 months and kept the security.  I actually came out a little ahead. I think court cost was about $110.  Court staff was very helpful.  Cops were cool when I stayed cool and was willing to do whatever they wanted but reminded them I would be talking to the judge.  One of the top brass even pulled me aside after and was amazed how quick I accomplished the eviction and for so little.  The hardest part is the serving.

Hope this helps.

Bob, that was a really helpful detailing of the process you went through.

You got the police to negotiate with them to pay you $3K so they could have extra time and leave at a later date. What would you do if they didn't leave on the negotiated date?

Question on keeping the security deposit -- what was your reason to have claim to the entire security deposit? Did they cause damage to the property up to or in excess of the sec dep? Was there unpaid rent?

Originally posted by @Scott K. :

Bob, that was a really helpful detailing of the process you went through.

You got the police to negotiate with them to pay you $3K so they could have extra time and leave at a later date. What would you do if they didn't leave on the negotiated date?

Question on keeping the security deposit -- what was your reason to have claim to the entire security deposit? Did they cause damage to the property up to or in excess of the sec dep? Was there unpaid rent?

 Sorry I kinda did a rough run thru.  If you can search my posts you might find the better post.

The Police did NOT want to do anything except hand me off to the sheriffs.  I would have agreed BUT I had asked the clerks if I should involve the sheriffs (just thinkin that was the thing to do)  but they told me to call the police if the tenants refused to leave.  In this case the tenants called the police.  This is in a highrise in Waikiki.  The police spent over an hour inside my unit with the tenants and when the police realized THEY had to remove my tenants or FACE the judge  they pressured the tenants to come up with some money AND then HAD to sell it to me.  They reminded me that my writ was good at any time and they were in the unit to see the condition so if there was any problem with condition on the way out I could call them to confirm that it was vandalism.  Tenants don't want to piss off cops, cops don't wanna piss off a judge.  You want them on your side.

Tenants left on time and clean.  When we had the court date that she requested to determine "issues" we had a mediation where I did not have to itemize damages.  I offered to settle by keeping the security deposit since she had 5 months left on lease.  I had the threat of her owing 5 months but the reality was that I rerented at almost $200 more with no time loss.  

Funny thing, on the check out date I was running maybe 10 minutes late and the tenants texted me about where I was.  I didn't even respond because they had a habit of being extra late and I knew I was almost there.  When I arrived the police were there.  I assume the police were not going to wait.  She had called thinking it was going to make me look bad.  I was nice to the police, they saw how cool and calm I was and I think it put her in a worse place.  

Originally posted by @Scott K. :

"You got the police to negotiate with them to pay you $3K so they could have extra time and leave at a later date. What would you do if they didn't leave on the negotiated date?"

So just how much more time do you want to give a deadbeat squatter that has cost you $6000 in damage and is causing the police to be called 2-3 times a week? Get him out right away. I would also suggest that you retain a good property manager because, with all due respect, you don't have a clue on how to manage a property. I don't say that to be a jerk. I think it's in your best interest so you don't lose your shirt. A PM would be handling this whole mess for you for a few hundred dollars.

Good luck.

This post has been removed.

Admittedly so. I'm also 5000 miles away from my property. I actually *do* have a PM now and she is really on top of things with these tenants. I only got her in the last 2 months entirely because she is under contract to buy my house this winter and has a vested interest in the property being maintained.

She has been over at the house almost daily "swatting flies", telling riff-raff to leave and putting notices on the tenant's door. Things I can't do from 5000 miles away.

The latest update -- I just heard from my PM -- is that she said he said he's leaving tomorrow. We'll see. My PM said she's done 100's of eviction in California, so she knows when we need to do that.

Originally posted by @Bob Bowling:
Originally posted by @Mike D'Arrigo:

 A PM would be handling this whole mess for you for a few hundred dollars.

Good luck.

Or shoot,  send a bunch of money to some guy in CA to invest in INDY and he will send you 12% EACH and EVERY month like clock work.  @Mike D'Arrigo,  I don't believe you have any experience with Hawaii property.  A PM WILL NOT accomplish this for you for a fer hundred dollars even though they are collecting 10% of Hawaii rents.

 I called every single PM in Kona and not a single one wanted to take over managing my property. The most successful PM in Kona even asked me where the tenants were from and when I told her, she said "No thanks!" Sadly, certain demographics are like bad buzzwords.

Another PM told me that I was already doing everything she would do, except she would be able to post notices on the door. Other than that, she said I was doing all I could do already.

But fortunately I finally got a PM at no cost because she is going to buy my house, and she's been a real bulldog on these tenants because she has a vested interest. However, when it comes to eviction, she said she'll tell me when it's time to do it, but she cannot do it for me.

@Bob Bowling As always, it's great to hear from you Bob.

@Bob Bowling You apparently did not listen to the podcast of my last show with @Jay Hinrichs . I specifically had Jay on as a guest because of his experience and knowledge of what can go wrong. Listen to the show sometime and you will see that it portrays a very balanced picture of buy and hold investing and what investors should expect. Jay isn't the only one that I have had on my show to portray to true picture. I am one of the last people that would tell someone that they will get "12% EACH and EVERY month" as you claim so please don't cast aspersions without knowing how someone does business.

@Scott K. Just curious, why did you decide to sell the property? Were the numbers not right, or something off about the tenant base, or something else?

Originally posted by @Jeff L. :

@Scott Keen Just curious, why did you decide to sell the property? Were the numbers not right, or something off about the tenant base, or something else?

Yes, yes, yes.

I'm single, and I bought the 2-story 3BR/3BA house which has a fantastic unobstructed view of the ocean and sunsets to use as my full-time residence AND to rent out half of the house as a 30-day minimum rental primarily for mainlanders who take extended vacations (mostly Canadians). I remodeled the house so that the downstairs and upstairs were separated private living spaces with doors to secure them from each other. The only common area was the laundry room.

After a few seasons, the HOA got on my case about renting out my home for what the CC&R's called a "vacation rental". My idea of a vacation rental is daily and weekly. 30-day minimum to me is a month-to-month rental. Well, they said anything less than 180-days was not permitted, which is uncommon as most subdivisions in Kona that don't allow daily and weekly rentals, do allow 30-day minimum rentals. Then some nosy person in the subdivision reported my remodeling to the County zoning department, saying I had created a "multi-dwelling" structure where it's only zoned for single-family. I technically did not have a multi-dwelling because the downstairs space did not have a stove AND a sink (it only had a sink) which defines a space as a "dwelling", and the zoning inspectors gave me a pass on the multi-dwelling, but they also said I cannot live in the same single-family home AND rent out part of the home to a family. It's confusing because the law says I'm allowed to have up to 5 roommates. Couldn't the family renting from me upstairs just be roommates? Typical vague law, on purpose so government can define and enforce how it likes.

So because the HOA forbade me to rent out as a 30-day minimum rental, which I could easily get $5,000+ in the high season and $3,500+ in the low season from mainland visitors (mostly Canadians), and the zoning department did not allow 2 families to live in the same single-family home, I had to move out of the home and would have to rely on long-term rentals from the impoverished local economy.

So with the low rent against a high mortgage just made it not worth it at all and I was losing -$700 per month, even with an optimal renter. With a bad renter, I'm losing thousands in damage and unoccupied time. I found this out the hard way multiple times when I owned a condo in Kona and swore I'd never rent out another property long-term to the local economy ever again, and made the mistake of doing it this last time. However, as a 30-day minimum rental to mainlanders on extended vacations, the Kona condo I once owned worked out great during the high season, and I'd live it in during the low season. That is an arrangement I would recommend, and what I aspire to get back to if I want to spend part of the year in Kona again.

The bottom line is that the Kona house was a mistake, and it's my fault for not understanding the CC&R's and zoning laws. As just a residence with no vacation rental income or as a long-term rental to the impoverished local economy, the house is a financial loser either way and I had to cut my losses and sell it.

Originally posted by @Scott K. :
Originally posted by @Jeff L.:

Scott K. Just curious, why did you decide to sell the property? Were the numbers not right, or something off about the tenant base, or something else?

Yes, yes, yes.

I'm single, and I bought the 2-story 3BR/3BA house which has a fantastic unobstructed view of the ocean and sunsets to use as my full-time residence AND to rent out half of the house as a 30-day minimum rental primarily for mainlanders who take extended vacations (mostly Canadians). I remodeled the house so that the downstairs and upstairs were separated private living spaces with doors to secure them from each other. The only common area was the laundry room.

After a few seasons, the HOA got on my case about renting out my home for what the CC&R's called a "vacation rental". My idea of a vacation rental is daily and weekly. 30-day minimum to me is a month-to-month rental. Well, they said anything less than 180-days was not permitted, which is uncommon as most subdivisions in Kona that don't allow daily and weekly rentals, do allow 30-day minimum rentals. Then some nosy person in the subdivision reported my remodeling to the County zoning department, saying I had created a "multi-dwelling" structure where it's only zoned for single-family. I technically did not have a multi-dwelling because the downstairs space did not have a stove AND a sink (it only had a sink) which defines a space as a "dwelling", and the zoning inspectors gave me a pass on the multi-dwelling, but they also said I cannot live in the same single-family home AND rent out part of the home to a family. It's confusing because the law says I'm allowed to have up to 5 roommates. Couldn't the family renting from me upstairs just be roommates? Typical vague law, on purpose so government can define and enforce how it likes.

So because the HOA forbade me to rent out as a 30-day minimum rental, which I could easily get $5,000+ in the high season and $3,500+ in the low season from mainland visitors (mostly Canadians), and the zoning department did not allow 2 families to live in the same single-family home, I had to move out of the home and would have to rely on long-term rentals from the impoverished local economy.

So with the low rent against a high mortgage just made it not worth it at all and I was losing -$700 per month, even with an optimal renter. With a bad renter, I'm losing thousands in damage and unoccupied time. I found this out the hard way multiple times when I owned a condo in Kona and swore I'd never rent out another property long-term to the local economy ever again, and made the mistake of doing it this last time. However, as a 30-day minimum rental to mainlanders on extended vacations, the Kona condo I once owned worked out great during the high season, and I'd live it in during the low season. That is an arrangement I would recommend, and what I aspire to get back to if I want to spend part of the year in Kona again.

The bottom line is that the Kona house was a mistake, and it's my fault for not understanding the CC&R's and zoning laws. As just a residence with no vacation rental income or as a long-term rental to the impoverished local economy, the house is a financial loser either way and I had to cut my losses and sell it.

 That's tough. Sorry you are having to go through that. Kona has a big population. Why is it that with a luxury property with an unobstructed view, you are still attracting riff-raff type tenants?

Originally posted by @Andrey Y. :
 That's tough. Sorry you are having to go through that. Kona has a big population. Why is it that with a luxury property with an unobstructed view, you are still attracting riff-raff type tenants?

The riff-raff that I got as tenants inherited a bunch of money (or made it selling drugs), but no matter how much money they have, they're still riff-raff. When they gave me $25,000 upfront for 8-months rent, I couldn't turn it down. Gone were the worries of chasing down people each month for rent. But I didn't factor in that they were still riff-raff and damage my house, break rules, get into fist-fights, have the police show up 2-3 times a  week, disturb the neighbors, and break rules and laws.

The rent for a $600,000 home in Kona is about $1,800-$2,100/month and that's the max the people who are working for a living in Kona will pay rent for any house. The jobs in Kona amount to low-income retail and food service, and construction. A "great success" in Kona is to get a job working at the airport. So, the people working for a living in Kona make hardly any money which caps out rent around $2,000 per month no matter how nice the house. For long-term rental, I was charging $3,000 furnished with partial utilities, hoping to weed out the riff-raff. I still got riff-raff, just riff-raff with a huge inheritance (or drug dealing money).


If I would ever rent out property in Kona again, it would *ONLY* be vacation rental property that allowed daily or weekly rentals, or at least 30-day minimum rentals so that I could rent it to mainlanders on extended vacations (especially Canadians, who would come over for 2-month long vacations and pay $5,000 a month!).

Originally posted by @Mike D'Arrigo :

@Bob Bowling As always, it's great to hear from you Bob.

 So then what part of my factual post did you not like that you complained to have it removed?

@Bob Bowling The factual part  of your post was that I don't have any experience in Hawaii real estate and you would certainly know property management fee's there better than I do. Here's the non factual part of your post that I took exception to:

 "Or shoot, send a bunch of money to some guy in CA to invest in INDY and he will send you 12% EACH and EVERY month like clock work"

I would never make that claim. A simple check of the pro forma's on my company website will not show a single property with a 12% return unless it's financed. Any pro forma that shows a 12% ROI on a rehabbed property these days is either not accounting for vacancies and maintenance or the property is in a rough area where those returns on paper don't generally materialize.

Buy and hold investing is not without challenges and investing out of state is not for everyone. People need to understand the risks and how to mitigate them. Those are the things that I try to convey to people through my radio show so they go in to it with their eyes open. I think I've managed to do that with my most recent show on 7-23-2015 and 5-21-2015. I encourage anyone considering buying out of state to listen to the podcasts of those shows on my website. The more informed you are, the better decisions you'll make.

Originally posted by @Mike D'Arrigo :

@Bob Bowling The factual part  of your post was that I don't have any experience in Hawaii real estate and you would certainly know property management fee's there better than I do. Here's the non factual part of your post that I took exception to:

 "Or shoot, send a bunch of money to some guy in CA to invest in INDY and he will send you 12% EACH and EVERY month like clock work"

 I would never make that claim.  

So you are saying that there is not ONE Turnkey shill, owner, facilitator, salesperson in CA that is touting 12%+ "returns" in INDY?  

But now you are saying that if a person finances then YES you will claim 12%+ returns?  Can you clarify? 

@Bob Bowling I'm not saying that at all. Maybe I misunderstood, but your comment appeared directed towards me not just turn key operators in general. If it wasn't, I apologize. Yes, there are plenty of shills, not only in CA but all over the U.S. that tout unrealistic returns and unrealistic expectations that it is problem free. But there are also plenty of good, honest and ethical turn key operators, some right here on BP that don't do that. Unfortunately, the inexperienced investors has to learn how to navigate the potential landmines.

I'm happy to clarify my point about financed returns. It is certainly possible to get 12% leveraged returns on A and B class properties and higher on C class. Do I say that is guaranteed and there are no problems? No. I consider a pro forma an aggregate representation of the typical performance of a portfolio of properties in a given class and market based on history. That doesn't mean an individual property will perform according to a pro forma. Things happen that can't always be anticipated. For instance, 2 weeks after one of our investors closed on a property, a woman decided to drive her car through the side of the house wiping out his profit for the year. I will also be the first to tell people that no matter how good a property manager is, problem tenants can slip in under the radar, especially in low end properties. In spite of the potential risks, investors can do very well when they buy right. This is one of the reasons that I tell people it doesn't make sense to do this if they're only going own one property. One property isn't going to change their lifestyle and they need to diversify over a portfolio of properties so that when they have a problem child, they don't have all their eggs in one basket. It's no different than stocks. So bottom line, yes, 12% + COC returns are very possible but like with anything, there are risks and no guarantees.

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