I got a call from a friend of mine early last week. He told me a story that’s probably been told a thousand times and I’m sure you heard it too. A while back he picked up a property that was already tenant occupied and now the tenants aren’t paying their rent.
Like many people (especially those facing in foreclosure) he wanted to bury his head in the sand and hope things got better. However, I told him that even though I know it wasn’t the answer he was looking to hear, he must get rid of the tenants immediately. And that in the future if he hasn’t received his rent by the 5th of the month, to send his tenants a “pay rent or quit notice” and start the eviction process.
However, since the tenants were a month and a half behind already, I told him to send a letter that covers the following: “Dear Mr. Tenant: You’re behind on rent and on January 19th we’re starting the eviction process. We’ll try and garnish your wages, ruin your credit and anything else we legally can do. But if you move out within the next week and leave the house in broom-clean condition we can part as friends and no legal action will be taken.”
Of course, the letter is a little more eloquently written, but you get the point
I’ve had to use this type of letter once before and it worked. This enabled me to get the tenants out of the house ASAP instead of spending weeks going through the eviction process. And if the letter doesn’t work then you simply start the eviction process anyway, so you’ve got nothing to lose by sending it.
But if you’ll notice, I started this post by saying the guy inherited these tenants when he picked up the property. It doesn’t matter if you inherit tenants or choose your own, you still need to “run them through the ringer” and make sure they qualify to be in your house.
This becomes difficult with tenants already in a house…
Because legally you have to honor the current lease from the previous landlord. But you can still ask the tenants questions and ask to run their credit and see pay stubs, and all they can say is no.
But if they say no and act difficult in any manor, that’s probably your first clue that you don’t want to take over the property. Because remember, when you’re taking over a property from a landlord you need to find out the real reason he’s getting rid of it.
Is it because he’s moving or is it because they’re nightmare tenants who haven’t paid rent in 6 months? Also, make sure and ask to see his checking account statements that show the tenants rent payments for the last 3 months or so.
If you do your homework and verify everything, then it’s tough to get screwed by tenants – because 99% of tenant problems can be eliminated during the tenant screening process.