Tenant threatening to drag out eviction process

28 Replies

Afternoon all, 

I currently have a tenant in the upstairs of a duplex that was inherited in the sale and is becoming a bit of a problem. 

They are on a month to month lease which we have informed them we will not be renewing for a couple reasons, the first being that they are a complete slob and are trashing the place / from the looks of it are the reason the place had bedbugs with the previous owner , the second being that they have dogs that are not covered under my insurance. 

They were on a month to month lease so my first mistake was assuming this would be a quick removal. 

My property manager has notified them that we will not be renewing the lease at the end of the month (last month) and the tenant has reminded her that she evicted him a few years back from another place. In an attempt to work with the guy (since he had been there for a few years prior)  when he said he needed until the end of this month to get a place for him and his dogs (while threatening to make moving out a pain for all of us if we didn't let him hang until then) it seemed like the easiest thing would be to just have him for an additional month and then have him out after this month. 

It shouldn't have surprised me when he didn't pay for this month but for some reason it did. My manager has basically said that we can either go after the money or the eviction and that her inclination is to wait until the end of the month and then if he isn't gone begin proceedings (to avoid legal fees) .

Am I looking at this wrong when I think its best to get the ball rolling on the eviction now and stop the bleeding as fast as we can?  The way I see it if he doesn't pay for 2 months we are already out $900. 

I know there are people out there with similar stories. How'd you resolve this and get business back to usual, and what would you recommend someone in my shoes should be looking at as a best course of action? Also the property is in Michigan. 

Thanks for the read! 

Sounds like Cash for Keys might be your best bet. Give a very short window for them to leave. If that doesn't work, and they are not gone by the end of the month, pursue an eviction and go after every dime you can get, including past due rents, and make sure to file your judgement on their credit report.

@Ray Harrell I'm sure I can find an example of this somewhere on the site but since you brought it up is there any sort of standard to figure out how much you should be offering for something like this? Obviously the least possible effective amount is the goal. 

Maybe I’m misunderstanding this -

.. they knew this fella was a low life grifter and yet due to an old eviction they did yet still took him in under the lease . Are they even trying to screen people or what ? Don’t they know they already evicted him ? They should have easily known this . That is gross incompetents or was this guy brought in through a different PM ?

@David Edwards Yep like @Ray Harrell said, cash for keys would be my first try. If filing an eviction is cheap (only $40 here in SC) then I would start that right away if cash for keys didn't work. 

Get it in writing and don't give him the money till he is out.

you're right, get them out.

How would anyone look at this situation and think "oh, there is a chance that it'll get better with time" no. The only way it gets better is if you acquiesce to their demands, OR make them go away. Seems like only one option to me.

straight up, he didn't pay rent; evict immediately.

@Dennis M. He was inherited though the sale. The manager said she though the name was familiar and when she met him she immediately recognized him (confirming her suspicion that remembering the name was a bad sign) . Initially in the sale I was under the impression he would be gone but that didn't pan out. 

Either way we are here now so I just need to figure out the most cost effective way to get them out.

Start with, "If you move out by X date, I won't go after you for unpaid rent. I will even sign a document saying you don't owe me anything." That will make him feel like he's $900 ahead. If he doesn't bite, wait a few days and start with one month of rent, then two. Say the words, "cash money (no checks)" so he knows he will have cash in hand. If he bites, let him know he will have to sign a vacate agreement to be out as of X date, and the locks will be changed. He will receive the cash upon delivery of an empty unit and keys. Anything left in the unit after you hand him the cash will be considered trash.

If that doesn't work, then you threaten eviction, judgement, credit report. You don't want to make people mad if you don't have to. I think the first mistake was saying, "I'm not renewing because of X, Y, Z." You should have said, "I'm not renewing because I'm going in a different direction than renting the unit out. I can give you 2-3 months, but then I have to have possession to get started."

Could swallow some pride and use the cash for keys method. Offer 200 or 300 bucks for them to hand over the keys. Not a fun strategy after being out 900, but avoiding legal fees which are probably more might be the better option. Hope it works out!

If the property was supposed to be delivered to you empty at closing, you may have cause of action against the seller. Was that in your contingency?

@Ray Harrell I think that's a good way to approach it. Next time I'll be more specific with what not to say with the manager in their interactions for these sorts of things. @John Underwood That's the plan should the initial cash for keys not work. @Alexander Felice the real issue is I didn't expect him to get better just to not be so hard to get rid of once the time came. 

Thanks for the comments guys.

Unless you want to do cash for keys and he accepts immediately, I would start the eviction process. He has already lied for one month and proven he is not trustworthy. I would not drag this out any longer by trusting him to move out at the end of the month. You can cancel it if he does actually move out.

Start the eviction....and when this is all done, fire the stupid PM that placed a tenant that they had previously evicted

@David Edwards

Inheriting tenants can be a really bad thing, look at your options and honestly I wouldn't think of this situation as that bad because you will learn so much in the process. You will be better prepared next time when screening tenants because you will know what to look out for. 

Be positive and look at it as a learning experience 

@David Edwards cash for keys is a major mistake. The majority of tenants leave after you post notice to vacate, so it never even moves to eviction. In this guys case he has already been evicted once. I would tell him that you are prepared to follow through with eviction and after having two evictions on his record, good luck finding a decent place to rent. One eviction can be explained away, but two permanently labels them as a dead beat. Tell them that so they understand what they have to lose. 

You are already out $900 so why the heck would you hand him several hundred more? It is shocking how many landlords unnecessarily hand out money, when they could easily use threat of eviction to get them out. This is what landlords don't understand, people don't want evictions on their record. Half them leave after being served notice and the other half don't even show up in court. If you have a professional tenant, $200 isn't going to do jack when they can steal $900 in rent each month they stay there without paying. That is my point is cash for keys only works for people who would have left anyways, the rest need to be evicted.

You never offer cash for keys otherwise you have zero assurances they will leave. Trust is not part of this business. Personally I believe cash for keys is demeaning for a investor/landlord. It is bad enough to reward criminal tenants but not having a eviction on their record impedes the rest of us from properly screening them in the future.  Bribing tenants to leave hurts our business and all other landlords. It is the act of a hobby landlord in considering only themselves and no one else. Bad landlord.

The eviction process should have been started the day after rent was due and not paid. It can always be canceled but lost time can never be recovered.

Oh I almost forgot...fire your PM. Any PM that suggests that a wait and see strategy is a good idea is lazy and only avoiding doing their job.

Originally posted by @Thomas S. :

You never offer cash for keys otherwise you have zero assurances they will leave. Trust is not part of this business. Personally I believe cash for keys is demeaning for a investor/landlord. It is bad enough to reward criminal tenants but not having a eviction on their record impedes the rest of us from properly screening them in the future.  Bribing tenants to leave hurts our business and all other landlords. It is the act of a hobby landlord in considering only themselves and no one else. Bad landlord.

The eviction process should have been started the day after rent was due and not paid. It can always be canceled but lost time can never be recovered.

Oh I almost forgot...fire your PM. Any PM that suggests that a wait and see strategy is a good idea is lazy and only avoiding doing their job.

Agree on all accounts!

I was able to get some valuable insights from this book I read titled, Never Split The Difference , and essentially it teaches you that you have to look for information (in this case it would be from the tenant) that is causing him to act in a difficult manner. He may be in a situation where his life is difficult right now, and it's your duty to find out why. You can use the why as leverage. What situation is he in that is causing him to not be able to make payments? Drive towards a solution where you and the tenant come to an agreement and try to remember that he's human...driven by emotional reason. 

Hope that helped a little. 

If your property manager is recommending to wait until the end of the month to begin eviction, he is the next one to go. You always begin the eviction process on the first day your state legally allows it. This is how you protect yourself and your asset. If he pays or vacates, you can end the process.

Agree here with the others on: what is the point of waiting for a whole month to go by? The eviction process should have been started by the PM as soon as legally possible - that is part of what they are being paid to do. Why you are even involved in this process, if you have a PM, is beyond me. The only thing you should know here is that the tenant hasn't paid and the legal process for eviction has started, and then when the unit is vacated and needs to be prepared to put back on the market. 

Originally posted by @Armin Trepic :

I was able to get some valuable insights from this book I read titled, Never Split The Difference , and essentially it teaches you that you have to look for information (in this case it would be from the tenant) that is causing him to act in a difficult manner. He may be in a situation where his life is difficult right now, and it's your duty to find out why. You can use the why as leverage. What situation is he in that is causing him to not be able to make payments? Drive towards a solution where you and the tenant come to an agreement and try to remember that he's human...driven by emotional reason. 

Hope that helped a little. 

 The tenants situation is that his landlord asked him to move out. So arguably his problem is that he doesn't have a place to live. The month of rent he didn't pay only happened AFTER he was asked to leave. My guess is the tenant is using that money for his new place. The agreement should be either pay rent or get out. If neither happens, then the tenant gets evicted. Nobody wants an eviction, so splitting the difference would be "you leave and I won't evict you".

Originally posted by @Joe Splitrock :
Originally posted by @Armin Trepic:

I was able to get some valuable insights from this book I read titled, Never Split The Difference , and essentially it teaches you that you have to look for information (in this case it would be from the tenant) that is causing him to act in a difficult manner. He may be in a situation where his life is difficult right now, and it's your duty to find out why. You can use the why as leverage. What situation is he in that is causing him to not be able to make payments? Drive towards a solution where you and the tenant come to an agreement and try to remember that he's human...driven by emotional reason. 

Hope that helped a little. 

 The tenants situation is that his landlord asked him to move out. So arguably his problem is that he doesn't have a place to live. The month of rent he didn't pay only happened AFTER he was asked to leave. My guess is the tenant is using that money for his new place. The agreement should be either pay rent or get out. If neither happens, then the tenant gets evicted. Nobody wants an eviction, so splitting the difference would be "you leave and I won't evict you".

 The book that I referenced is called "Never split the difference" for a reason. 😏

Originally posted by @Ned J. :

Start the eviction....and when this is all done, fire the stupid PM that placed a tenant that they had previously evicted.

Reading comprehension time!   It is an INHERITED tenant.  OP probably doesn't have the same PM as previous owner of property.  PM is NOT the person who let this tenant into this property.

As to whether it is worth it to pay cash for keys...In Illinois it's at LEAST two months,  usually 3-4,  to evict.  Five day notice,  then wait two weeks for a court date,  where the judge gives them 30 days to find a new place.  ONLY when the 30 days is up can you schedule the sheriff,  which is 2 weeks-2 months wait in normal times,  was twice that in 2010 when eviction rates were very high.  You can get a judgement for the unpaid rent but good luck with that.  So hell yes, I pay for keys.  It all depends on the speed of eviction in your area as to whether or not it's worth it. I start with the five day notice and go from there...usually they pay or agree to leave within a week,  for nothing.  Once they get the court date notice I offer the full deposit back which is usually no big loss,  maybe $300 in damages.  I have done this every time with problem tenants since evicting one guy in 2010 which took six months and cost us over $7000.  I'll take $300 over $7K every single time.  (Yes, nowadays it would be more like $3000 loss but still,  $300 is better!)

@Nancy P. ....ok..... so when the PM took over managing that property, they didn't pay attention to who was in it? Didn't act on "huh, that name seems familiar?"..... and when she realized she had evicted him before, took the "lets wait and see" approach?

Then fire her for the stupid plan of "well lets wait until the end of the month and see if he pays or leaves"....that's straight up lazy PM work....no excuses for a very passive approach to tenant that you have evicted before.

Start the eviction ASAP....best case they leave based on that..... don't start with cash for keys as it kills all your leverage....you can always use that strategy later, but you cant take back the time you wasted before you started the formal eviction process....that should start at day one of issues, since you can always cancel it our change course before it goes to court etc