How to Fire a landlord

15 Replies

I am currently in a lease with a tenant and landlord in Richmond VA. I have not been happy with the landlord. The tenant had been late 3 months in a row and after a large argument with the landlord I want to fire them. They have put in a pay or quit notice to the court which is scheduled for 15th this month.

I have asked him to release me from the lease so I can take care of the property myself. He said after the tenants are evicted.

I’m happy to work with the tenants but want nothing to do with him.

What are my options ?

Are you doing a master lease? Are you a PM?

Sounds like you work for the Landlord. I would not be able to fire my boss. I could only quit.

You can only legally do what your contract says. I would read that and make a determination and possibly wait for your contract to expire.

Originally posted by @Bret Kennedy :

@John Underwood

Sorry. I am the property owner..

 Ok I'm still lost. How are you in a lease with a Landlord if you are the owner? Usually the Landlord is the owner or you have a PM that leases the property on behalf of the owner.

@John Underwood

OK clearly I wasn’t good at writing this particular post.

Let me start again.

I own a property. I am ploy a property manager to lease the property out for me. The tenants have been late three months in a row. I no longer wish to have the rope try manager run the property management for me. The property manager has put in a pay or quit request to the court which is scheduled for the 15th I have asked the property manager To stop being my landlord. He wanted to wait until the tenants were evicted which is the only thing holding us to together. I have told him that I will take over the issues with the tenants and no longer wish to use him as a property manager.

Ah I see. If he is willing to part ways then that sound like the best option. If he refuses then it will boil down to what the contract between you two says.

@Bret Kennedy there’s a lot to unravel here. Why are you mad at the PM?

Did they place the tenant?

Do you own a lower class asset?

The PM is asking to stay thru the eviction- and evictions aren’t fun. Most PMs don’t get paid unless they collect rent, so is your PM actually trying to help you?

Your language of not understanding the difference between landlords and Property managers, or leases and management agreements tend to make me think it might not be the PM.

@Stephen Glover While I can see where my mis labelling of verbiage has confused everyone which I apologize for, your attitude in saying ' I am the problem' is not helpful, which is what this forum is about right?

@John Underwood Unfortunately it doesn't seem like he is. I have told him I want to look after the property myself and that I don't want to use him or his company any further, but his retort was that until an eviction is performed they will run the course of the property management. 

The contract doesn't have any verbiage in there that says I can cancel the contract, he does have some in there that he can cancel under certain terms. 

Is there any way legally I can have the contract cancelled or something along those lines?


@Bret Kennedy you're right.  I should have picked a better use of verbiage myself.  I think I just see people throw PM's under the bus so quickly.  While some certainly deserve it, it almost seems like this one might be trying to help you from the little information I have.

I do want to help if possible.  What is it that your PM is doing that you don't like?  From what I gather, rent is coming in late, or not at all, which led to an eviction process.  Is there something your PM did wrong?  If they placed a bad tenant, I totally get that.  If they weren't proactive in sending a pay or quit, I get that too.  Is there something they completely dropped the ball on?  If so, you might have a way out of your contract.

If you're frustrated about the late rent and eviction process, holding on to the PM through the eviction might make your life a little easier... but again maybe not.

Anyway, I'm happy to discuss more here or in private messages and see if I can add value somewhere.  

@Stephen Glover (Preface) While I agree that I should have read the contract in a lot more detail than I did, as a General Contractor doing home remodelling I ensure that I go through all of my contracts with my clients verbally for full understanding. 

So what has happened is that I was not informed or contacted by the PM when the tenants didn't pay on time. They had their payment date, then they also have their 'grace period date'. First month the didn't pay until after the grace period, and I didn't find this out until I got the statement. Once I finally got the statement I noticed in a 'fee', a leasing fee. This was the first part of the signed contract I missed, yep totally my fault. Then a second 'retainer' was taken out which was also in the contract after I re-read it for a 'maintenance retainer'. ie: any work that needed to be done this could be used. While I understand this, as mentioned above I would have walked this through my client. So instead of my first rental payment being $1020, I got $380 (roughly) That didn't cover half of my mortgage which is why I got ticked off. 

Come second month, I checked my Bank and again no money. I had to follow up with my PM to find out what was happening, they said they still hadn't paid. Then after I challenged them on this, the PM told me 'he didn't force the tenants to sign the agreement, and He can't force them to pay rent'. And while if you want to be technical and say this is true, that isn't what a PM should be doing. They should be communicating with the owner and the client to ensure all is being done to have the rent paid. 

Come the 3rd month, again I haven't been told the rent is late until I question them. Speaking with an investor friend of mine in the same area, I have found out that very few PM's charge the additional fees I have been charged on top of my monthly PM management fee. Then I find out that the PM charges the tenant a late fee, of which he takes 60% which isn't outlined in the contract anywhere. After disputing this and a long email from the PM he didn't want to "get into a pissing contest about he is to be doing his job". I told him that the tenants late payment wasn't acceptable, and while I understand eviction, my point would have been to have a talk with the tenant and work out a way to get this solved. Instead he took it as me telling him that I wanted them out. I said 'if they can't get it together then we need to find alternate arrangements'. 

In summary, his attitude, his lack of communication and his continual fees that I have to pay lead me to want to fire his ***. :()

So that clears it up a little. I am going to VA and to be honest I don't want to evict anyone. I am happy to create a much nicer environment for the tenant if we can work out how to fix it. I just don't want this PM to have anything to do with my properties any more.

Please feel free to chime in or ask additional questions. 


@Bret Kennedy  Wow.  Sorry to hear that.  The leasing fee is standard, sure.  So it sounds like they placed the tenant, charged a leasing fee, the tenant never paid and they are still charging for some random maintenance retainer and management fees.  That's absolutely absurd.

Regardless if you read the entire contract or not (which is always a good idea), I want our clients to know exactly what they are getting into so we actually have a good long term relationship. It's not fun when clients aren't happy. Sorry you're having that experience, I promise it's not all that bad in VA!

I'll send you a DM.  I'll be happy to make some introductions as needed to some good local RE Attorneys.  Have a good network here that might be able to help you.

While it seems like you will eventually be better off after finding a better management option for your property, I'd like to ask what this pay or quit notice exactly is.

Originally posted by @Bret Kennedy:

...They have put in a pay or quit notice to the court which is scheduled for 15th this month...

Perhaps I am unfamiliar with VA rent laws, but in California, if a tenant does not pay rent by the agreed date, the landlord or property manager sends the tenant a 3 day notice to pay or quit. This notice does not go to court (at least yet). Once the 3 days have passed and rent has not been paid, then an unlawful detainer claim is filed in court. This filing will include the 3 day notice as well as other relevant documents. These documents must be served to the tenant and s/he is given 5 days to respond to the court. This process continues, but is not relevant right now here.

Again, I'm just asking what it is the property manager is doing? Do you have a copy of the notice? Was something filed? What happens on the 15th?

Bret, quite a few mistakes were made but you won't solve them by making more mistakes. This tenant refuses to sign the lease and they've paid late three months in a row. What makes you think you can negotiate a better deal and get them to abide by it?

You should let the PM proceed with the eviction. Take the house back and start fresh.

In the meantime, you should learn the difference between a good PM and a bad one. It's your responsibility to educate yourself on what a good PM looks like and then screen them until you find one. The reason so many bad managers exist is because people keep hiring them without doing any research.

Remember: cheaper doesn't mean you'll make more money.

 You can start by going to www.narpm.orgto search their directory of managers. These are professionals with additional training and a stricter code of ethics. It's no guarantee but it's a good place to start. Regardless of how you find them, try to interview at least three managers.

1. Ask how many units they manage and how much experience they have. If it's a larger organization, feel free to inquire about their different staff qualifications.

2. Review their management agreement. Make sure it explicitly explains the process for termination if you are unhappy with their services, but especially if they violate the terms of your agreement.

3. Understand the fees involved and calculate the total cost for an entire year of management so you can compare the different managers. It may sound nice to pay a 5% management fee but the extra fees can add up to be more than the other company that charges 10% with no add-on fees. Fees should be clearly stated, easy to understand, and justifiable. If you ask the manager to justify a fee and he starts hemming and hawing, move on or require them to remove the fee. Don't be afraid to negotiate!

4. Review their lease agreement and addenda. Think of all the things that could go wrong and see if the lease addresses them: unauthorized pets or tenants, early termination, security deposit, lease violations, late rent, eviction, lawn maintenance, parking, etc.

5. Don't just read the lease! Ask the manager to explain their process for dealing with maintenance, late rent, evictions, turnover, etc. If they are professional, they can explain this quickly and easily. If they are VERY professional, they will have their processes in writing as verification that it is enforced equally and fairly by their entire staff.

6. Ask to speak with some of their current owners and current/former tenants. You can also check their reviews online at Google, Facebook, or Yelp. Just remember: most negative reviews are written by problematic tenants. The fact they are complaining online might be an indication the property manager dealt with them properly so be sure to ask the manager for their side of the story.

7. Look at their marketing strategy. Are they doing everything they can to expose properties to the widest possible market? Are their listings detailed with good quality photos? Can they prove how long it takes to rent a vacant property?

This isn't inclusive but should give you a good start. If you have specific questions about property management, I'll be happy to help!

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