Upstairs Tenant has no Lease

7 Replies

We are negotiating the purchase of a  duplex in St. Louis.  The upstairs tenant doesn't have a lease.  How does one fulfill a lease if there isn't one?

Kathy Henley

Red Bird Properties LLC

If you close on the property, have the tenant sign a new lease to you.  Also, check their background, credit or whatever you check to vet your tenants.  If they pass, have them sign a new lease, if they are less than ideal, give them notice to move.

I wouldn't look at that as a negative. It's a beautiful thing. If the tenant is month-to-month you have every right to ask him to sign a lease on your terms. If he doesn't want to, then give him 30 days notice that you are terminating his tenancy if that's the time frame allowed in Missouri.

@Kathy Henley - Is this your first property in St. Louis? I currently live in Joplin, and have considered expanding to St. Louis through a turn key operation. How did you find your duplex? 

@Kathy Henley You might want to let them stay month to month until you know if they're a good tenant or not. If they are, then you can decide if you want to put them on a lease. I wouldn't arbitrarily give him notice though if they don't want to sign a lease if they're a good tenant, there's no advantage of that. Either way, find out if they are a good tenant before doing anything. You don't want to put a lousy tenant on a lease and then have to evict them.

With inherited tenants month-to-month is a godsend, so don't change that. I would suggest getting them on a month-to-month lease quickly though since that protects both of you, and most importantly lets you evict them should you discover you need to. It's a lot harder to do that without a lease. 

When you go introduce yourself with the lease also be sure you let them know you'll run a credit check and background check like you would any other tenant -- there's no reason to not get that information. I'd front any application fee you might normally charge since they're already in place.

Thanks for the help.  It is under contract, with a month-to-month option for the upstairs tenant.

@Peter MacKercher   Thanks for the suggestion of fronting the background check; that sounds sensible.

@Josh LeMasters  It is not turn-key.  I have a terrific property manager who will empty the basement of decades of old lady belongings.  We budgeted for repairs but if the inspection reveals any unknowns, a new decision will be made.  It is our third possible building.

Originally posted by @Peter MacKercher :

With inherited tenants month-to-month is a godsend, so don't change that. I would suggest getting them on a month-to-month lease quickly though since that protects both of you, and most importantly lets you evict them should you discover you need to. It's a lot harder to do that without a lease. 

When you go introduce yourself with the lease also be sure you let them know you'll run a credit check and background check like you would any other tenant -- there's no reason to not get that information. I'd front any application fee you might normally charge since they're already in place.

 I wish I'd seen that advice a few months back, because I put 23 existing tenants on new year leases. What you say makes perfect sense and I'll definitely take advantage of that philosophy on my next deal.

Thanks for the post!

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