Buying a home where a tenant refuses to leave.

10 Replies

So I recently got a home under contract in Waco, TX. Currently, the owner of the home rents it out to a tenant though there isn't a lease agreement. The seller informed the tenant that she was selling the home, but the tenant did not take it lightly and has gone incognito. She's not at the house, nor is she answering phone calls, and she has the only key to the house. I'm looking to close on the property pretty soon, and I don't want to go through an eviction process. If I close on the property after giving a 30 day notice, what can I do to ensure that the tenant leaves.

Originally posted by @O'Neil Mbakwe :

So I recently got a home under contract in Waco, TX. Currently, the owner of the home rents it out to a tenant though there isn't a lease agreement. The seller informed the tenant that she was selling the home, but the tenant did not take it lightly and has gone incognito. She's not at the house, nor is she answering phone calls, and she has the only key to the house. I'm looking to close on the property pretty soon, and I don't want to go through an eviction process. If I close on the property after giving a 30 day notice, what can I do to ensure that the tenant leaves. 

Several things:

1. Insist on closing on a vacant home - that leaves the responsibility with the current owner to get that accomplished. If the tenant destroys anything in the home, it also falls on the seller.

2. Accessing the home is relatively easy. The seller leaves a notice on the door that she needs to enter the property (not sure how much advanced notice is required in TX) then when the time comes, you go in. You may need a locksmith and if there's any concern about safety, have a deputy present. Either way, you're getting in.

Hope this helps.

You are buying a house with a known problem.  In your state, how hard is it to get a tenant out who is non-responsive.  In my state (CA) it could take 4 months.   Either get a discount on the home, or make sure they are out prior to closing. 

Let it be the sellers problem to figure out, or get some cash to be the one to deal with it.

Have you been allowed in to see the property?  Sounds like current owner hasn't been in there if they have no key, so the condition may be very different from when the tenant took possession.   

Do your due diligence!

@Tchaka Owen Thanks for your insight. I made sure the contract stated that I close when the home is vacant, so great call on that. Is there another way to give the tenant notice to vacate the premises? If the seller puts a notice on the door, could the tenant rip it down and say she never got it?

@Christine Kankowski Thanks for your insight. Getting tenants out could be a long process in Texas as well, my hope is that an eviction isn't needed. I've only seen the exterior of the property, but made an offer that accounted for a full-rehab if necessary.

Thank you both for your responses!

Have you considered offering cash for keys?  Tell the Tennant you will give them $500 cash to move. Don’t pay them until the property is vacant and you have taken possession. Change the locks immediately. 

Regards, Pete

@Pete Harper has a good idea about offering $500 to move and given that your contract says it must be vacant, that's on the seller to do. Regarding the notice, it doesn't matter what the tenant says....you will have taken pictures of the notice you posted....and you will have access granted (by law). The reason you optionally call a deputy is to ensure your access. Good luck!

I live in Waco and have dealt with this. A noticed has to be posted. I forgot how long but I think it is a 30 days notice. Go ahead and go down to the courthouse and talk to the people on the first floor. When you walk in it should be on the right. Sorry, it has been a year since I had to do this. Texas is a landlord friendly state and if you follow all the procedures correctly you can have them evicted fairly quickly.

@Pete Harper Thanks for your help, I didn't think about that as an option. Does anything need to be in formal writing? Could it just be a mutual agreement between the tenant and I? This is assuming I find her. 

@Bob McEachern Can I write a thirty day  notice on my own? Or is there a standard form that I can get online? Thanks for your help

Originally posted by @O'Neil Mbakwe :

@Pete Harper Thanks for your help, I didn't think about that as an option. Does anything need to be in formal writing? Could it just be a mutual agreement between the tenant and I? This is assuming I find her. 

@Bob McEachern Can I write a thirty day  notice on my own? Or is there a standard form that I can get online? Thanks for your help

 You can't do anything legally with the tenant since you don't own the property. If the owner won't ensure the unit is vacant, you can either refuse to close or accept the unit as-is and then proceed through the eviction process once you are the legal owner of the property. 

Personally, I don't close on a property if it's not vacant 1 hour before closing. 

The process is simple in Texas. However, you cannot do anything until you are the owner. In the meantime I would:

-Gather information from the owner regarding the tenant. Name , phone number and work address 

-Is the tenant current on the rent?  If not, no 30 day notice is needed. 3 days notice for termination to begin the eviction process 

-if the tenant is current, the day you close send a 30 day notice terminating the lease. No formal form is needed as it can be handwritten. Send the notice by regular and certified mail. You are not required to verify that she received. Just proof it was sent

If she does not vacate, you can file the eviction for +-$150. You file against her and all other occupants. The process takes +-21 days

@JD Martin @Greg H. Thank you both for your insight. Legally, I am not the owner until closing. There isn't a lease agreement between the seller and the current tenant. Is the seller able to provide her tenant with the 30day notice?  I foresaw the tenant being an issue, so the contract I have with the seller is on an 8-month term.