When Is It Better to Just Get the Tenant Out Rather than Go Through the Eviction Process?

The word “eviction” usually brings to mind a long, stressful process ending with sheriff’s deputies knocking on a door and a tenant's furniture piling up in the street.

But in reality, it’s not uncommon for a lease to end early without a formal eviction.

Keep this information in mind if you’ve got a tenant who you want out of your rental property, but want to avoid official eviction proceedings.

How Do You Get a Tenant Out Without Eviction?
In nearly every case, the answer is short and to the point: cash.

With few exceptions, the only leverage you have against a tenant who wants to stay while you don’t want to initiate eviction proceedings is a buyout.

If you’re lucky, your tenant will agree to the cheapest offer, like an amount high enough to cover their first month’s rent in a new apartment, or an agreement to waive their existing rental debt to you.

However, if you’re trying to remove a tenant without eviction, it’s likely that they know they have the upper hand, and may demand a payment high enough to cover their every expense, like full relocation costs, and full first month, last month, and security deposit costs for a new lease.

Still, there are times when you’ll be willing to pay even high amounts, like the following scenarios.

You’re at Fault
Topping the list is a situation where your tenant has legitimate legal claims to bring against you during eviction proceedings.

This category covers even the smallest liabilities on your part.

Did you delay a little too long repairing the furnace last winter? Did you push back against a tenant request for pest extermination?

Those instances may have seemed small at the time, but if they technically violated tenant rights laws in your area, they can and will be held against you in eviction court.

You’ll also need to keep in mind cases where you didn’t even realize you might have been at fault.

In particular, many areas have laws protecting tenants against harassment, especially during a rental dispute. While it may have been normal for you to swing by a rental property to check in twice a month, if the relationship sours and eviction is in the air, your tenant might have a claim that your frequent visits amounted to harassment.

Carefully review every letter of the rental laws for your area, and make sure there are no situations where you might be found at fault.

Eviction Would Cost More
In many areas, once eviction starts, your tenants often won't suffer any consequence if they simply stop paying rent. If eviction proceedings last for months, that’s months of income you’ll be missing out on.

In a situation like that, if you can make an offer of compensation to the tenant that’s less than the cost of eviction, the numbers will make it clear.

Run the math, and then use your results to determine how much of a pay-off you should tempt your tenant with.

The same logic holds true in a situation where you need the tenant out “at any cost.”

This situation may arise if you’re planning to sell the property at a substantial profit, but the sale needs to close soon to be successful.

Alternately, landlords in big cities often find that their property taxes have spiked sharply, leading to a similar situation where you need to sell the property immediately.

In any scenario, the ultimate question is a simple math problem: Does it cost you more to evict than it does to buy a tenant out?

If the answer is yes, then it’s time to get in touch with your tenant and start negotiating.


Posted on Dec 18, 2015


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