"Cash for Keys" vs. Eviction

12 Replies

Hi BP,

I've had a tenant for about six months who has typically paid on time. However, she has run into some hard times and is now behind on rent by $1,890. ($840 remaining for Dec 2019 + $1,050 owed for Jan 2020 = $1,890 total owed as of this posting date 1/3/20).

My lease uses a progressive late payment system. Rent is due on the 1st. Grace period on the 2nd. $50 on the third. +$5 per additional late day.

She has promised to pay several times in the past five weeks but has only paid $350. I have not posted a 7-day court notice or eviction notice. I'd like to avoid an eviction for both my sake and hers. She has promised to pay by the 14th and says she by then she will be caught up to pay February rent on time. However, she is willing to peacefully move out if that's what I decide needs to happen.

My other properties always pay on time and I've never been here before. Should I wait until the 14th? Or request that she move out within 30 days? Lastly, should I keep her security deposit? Or offer a "cash for keys" situation where I tell her "I'll give you x amount in cash if you can give me keys by the end of the week."

Any advice is appreciated. Thank you!

It sounds like you really want to try to work with her and not evict, if at possible. Even given that, why are you NOT sending the 7 day notice?  Sending the 7 day notice does not require that you start eviction proceedings immediately, but it gives you the option to do so.  

Send her a 7 day notice today.  If she doesn't keep her promise to pay on the 14th, start eviction proceedings immediately.  By the time you get a court date you are going to be into February anyway.

@Greg Scott , eviction comes with a cost and wasted time=money associated with it. I don't see how eviction as the best option here, especially if she has said that she is willing to move out if that is what Christian wishes. 

Christian - I think you should make a deal with her and put it in writing that if she does not make the payment by the 14th, she will have until the end of the month to move out. Make sure she signs it and work with her to get her out at the end of the month. Depending on how cooperative she is, you can even offer to pay some of her moving costs to help her get situated somewhere else. Don't offer "Cash for keys" because seems like she is willing to vacate on her own.

Good luck. 

@Nik Corbaxhi Sending the 7 day notice does not require you to evict, but it gives you the option to do it more quickly, IF YOU CHOOSE.   Besides, an eviction in Michigan is far cheaper than losing even one month of rent.

As you note, hopefully Christian can work out an agreement with her, but I've heard too many song and dance stories in my life. Waiting until the end of January to find out she hasn't left, just costs you much more.

@Christian Hall Sending a 7-day now notice costs you a stamp plus some paper and ink, with no downside.

Cash for keys is like giving your dog a steak after it $&@ts on the carpeting . No no no that’s a bad idea ! Don’t reward bad behavior . Give them notice then File eviction and Throw her out !
Waiting costs money act now act fast and get the ball rolling . Do you know how many untold millions are lost every month in this country by timid land lords hoping and wishing things will get better with these idiots  ? 
“ she promised “ yeah yeah ..she promises to pay her bills right . Her word is equal to a glass of urine in value . Look this lady is going to milk the cow ( you) for all it’s got if you don’t do something . 

@Nik Corbaxhi

LOL  In Michigan it definitely depends on your jurisdiction.  In my experience, from the date you send the 7 day notice you can probably be in court within a couple weeks.  If the tenant plays stupid and says they need legal advice, it usually buys them another week.  Once evicted, you have to wait another a week or two s to get a sheriff out there.  So, in a quick process they are out the same month, longer ones, next month.  (Bankruptcy is a different issue.)  An eviction costs me ~$150 plus court fees and $100/ hour if it goes to court, which is about an hour, maybe two at the most.

@Dennis M. Harsh, but I completely understand how this is the style some landlords will use. Most of the time it's the financially better way for a landlord to handle any situation. There's variables you'll have to take into account @Christian Hall that I don't believe anyone on a forum without knowing the full extent of your relationship with the tenant will be able to answer. 

Maybe eviction is the best for this specific scenario... maybe you have a connection with this tenant and can approach the situation with empathy and work out a cash for keys that helps the tenant out if you'd feel better about it post fact. 

I do agree strongly with @Greg Scott . Get the 7 day notice in, there's zero downside. It only keeps your options open. You can explain to your tenant if they don't understand. It doesn't start the eviction process, but it does put you into position to if need be. 

My comment is only for ==cash for keys.==   I've used this method before and the results were failure.  The cash is supposed to be for a move out by a certain date.  Tenants don't make that date and then still want the cash.

Then comes eviction.  Before the tenant is thrown out by the sheriff, I've paid modest cash to tenants to get the property back in an organized transition.  This eases the possibility that a tenant will vandalize your property.  It's a real risk.

I don't suffer much from evictions these days.  

For your tenant, she needs to pay up by the 14th or evict.  No further chances.  Offer cash for keys as well for move out by that date.  25% chance this tenant catches up and becomes a stable tenant in the long run.