Advice on removing tenants who owe large amounts when taking over

6 Replies

Hello Bigger Pockets!

In the beginning of 2020, I will be moving to Radford, VA to start operating my Grandpas rental property. All the houses need renovation but I know that is not my first priority. He has One renter who owes 1400, one who owes, 7400, and one who owes 3400. I will not be tolerating what my Grandpa did, as i want to make the property as profitable as can be(obviously). He is just very old and set in the ways that clearly never work out for him. He has threatened to evict these tenants multiple times but never followed through, as he somehow thinks they will eventually pay. How do I come in as a young adult and not piss off these tenants but get them to pay or leave without destroying the property?

@Alexander Linville If it were me I would join the Virginia State LL Association-or similar, and do it now. Then I would get familiar with local laws and procedures for eviction which I hear are onerous. There may also be folks here who are willing to help. Maybe do a follow up post which has Virginia in the subject line to draw attention. Maybe 'Virginia Eviction' help. All the best!

Do any of the tenants have leases now?  If so, see if you can get a copy of the leases from your grandfather, and read over them.  If they used to have a lease, and are now month-to-month, see if you can get a copy of the last lease they had before going month-to-month, because sometimes the law is that the payment dates, late fees, etc are the same as whatever was specified in the lease.

If they do have leases, you have to follow what the lease says, until the end date of the lease.  If you don't want to renew the lease, you have to tell the tenants that before the end of the lease.  The lease, or local law, may tell you how long before the end of the lease you have to give that notice - something around 30 to 60 days is probably typical.

One thing you may hear about is "cash for keys".  This is where you go to the tenants and agree with them that they will move out by a certain date, usually within a couple of months.  They meet you at the property, after they move out, and you both look over the property to make sure it's not trashed.  If the property is OK, they give you back the keys, and you give them some cash.  Yes, you're paying them, even though they owe money.  The idea is that sometimes, doing this is cheaper and faster than going through an eviction.

Don't try to turn off the electricity, water, gas, etc to the tenants that aren't paying rent.  Don't go and take the furnace or front door off of the house for "repairs" and not bring it back.  That is called a "self-help eviction", and it's illegal.

I also agree with @Bjorn Ahlblad ; find the local landlord's association or real estate investment group in Virgina, and join it.  Looking at where Radford is, the group might be based out of Roanoke, Lynchburg, or maybe even Richmond.  This will help put you in touch with other local landlords, attorneys, contractors, etc, that may be helpful to you.

There is also a Richmond, VA forum here on BiggerPockets that you might read or post to. It doesn't get a lot of activity, but the people there should be closer to your property.

@Alexander Linville - welcome to the area! Some good suggestions above ... would it be helpful for you if I connected you with a local property manager who's handled this before, and might be able to point you in the right direction? She's done a good bit of management for me, both personally on my own rentals, and on my clients', and I'm sure she'd be a good resource. Let me know.

Despite his good intentions your grandfather really sucked as a landlord to allow such petulant behavior To go on like that . Your worried about upsetting the tenants ? Geez man these people can’t even be classified as tenants they are parasitic leeches that need thrown out in the street ! Who gives a crap if they get pi$$ed off .. they don’t pay ! You need to clean house and get these under some sort of control because clearly the inmates have taken over the asylum 

Thank you all for your help! His work allowed him to borrow from his retirement and he paid the full 8 grand last weekend. I can't believe it! Never thought we would ever see that money! We had to follow all due process and when we sent him the itemized list that's all his work needed to allow him to borrow from his 401k! I guess this guy isn't retiring anytime soon!

@Alexander Linville Thanks for posting back with the results!  It's nice to hear how it worked out, and it helps everybody calibrate their advice to the next person.  :)

Many 401(k)s allow you to do that; sometimes it's called a "hardship withdrawal", and sometimes there are other terms for it.  There is a limited set of things you can use it for and housing is usually one of them.