how to deal with bad tenants

Updated April 2021

Sometimes, tenants just don’t work out. From causing frequent problems to finding loopholes right and left, there are many ways this can happen. In addition to the loss of income, a bad tenant can add serious stress to your life.

Learning the best way to get rid of bad tenants can be an essential skill for landlords everywhere!

Going through the eviction process can be overwhelming, time-consuming, and expensive. Finding ways to avoid eviction might be in your best interest in some cases, but it can often feel impossible to know how to get a tenant out without filing for eviction.

There’s no need to resort to sneaky ways to get rid of bad tenants. Despite how hopeless you might feel, you can learn how to get rid of a tenant faster and easier than going through the eviction process.

Table Of Contents: How To Get A Tenant Out Fast

Don’t delay in retaking control of your property fast. Utilize these techniques to quickly address and remove tenants who just aren’t working out:

The Best Way To Get Rid Of Bad Tenants

The Best Way To Get Rid Of Bad Tenants

Every landlord has dealt with a bad tenant at some point. In some cases, you can simply enforce the lease agreement and ask the tenant to leave according to the terms after a lease violation.

However, not every tenant will want to leave. Instead, you’ll have to file for eviction, go to a court hearing, and hope you can prove your case. Even if you do prove your case and win the eviction proceedings, it can take weeks to actually get the property back into your hands and ready to rent.

Most landlords don’t want to go through that process, so they allow bad tenants to stick around until the lease period is up.

The most experienced landlords (and those who are making the most money), however, do not allow that to happen. Instead, they take action! It’s essential to act quickly when facing this situation. You want to mitigate damages as much as possible; fast action will allow for that.

Today, you’ll learn the best way to get rid of bad tenants ASAP so you can regain control of your business.

What You Don’t Want To Do: Use Sneaky Ways To Get Rid Of Tenants

It can be easy to overreact when dealing with this kind of situation. You want to regain control of your property quickly, and you know you are in the right.

Still, that doesn’t mean you can barge in, kick the tenant out, and change the locks.

In fact, doing that would be incredibly illegal! Even if tenants are conducting illegal activity at the property, you cannot take the matter into your own hands.

As frustrating as it can be at times, you need to follow the proper procedures to evict tenants or convince the tenant to end their tenancy early by other means. Resorting to sneaky ways to get rid of bad tenants will only lead to trouble; keep everything above board.

What You Should Do Instead: Be Direct With Tenants

Rather than try to get the difficult tenants out in secretive ways, some landlords have found a more direct approach that works well.

I’m very fortunate to get to talk to landlords, investors, business professionals, and entrepreneurs all the time between association meetings and trade shows. Last year, I did a presentation for the Western New York Real Estate Investors Association and heard an amazing idea for dealing with problem tenants and ultimately getting rid of bad tenants. It may sound crazy at first, but hear it out.

The landlord claimed to have 100% success using the method of paying tenants to leave. Yes, you read that correctly, he pays his tenants to leave!

This method is called cash for keys.

At first, the other landlords laughed and the conversation briefly sparked 5 separate conversations about non-paying tenants they’ve dealt with in the past. And as they all traded nightmare stories of the world’s worst tenants, they were building the perfect case for the only forward thinking landlord who is paying his tenants to leave instead of battling with them.

Some landlords would prefer to go through the eviction process as the idea of paying someone to leave seems too much to handle. Others try to raise the rent to force the tenants to look for another alternative, but this doesn’t always work out in their favor.

All About The Cash For Keys Method

All About The Cash For Keys MethodTo understand what this landlord did, we need to get into more detail about the cash for keys method and why it could be your best option when you’re dealing with bad tenants!

The cash for keys method is exactly what its name suggests. You, the landlord, give the tenant money to turn over their keys and right to occupy the property. Essentially, you are paying them to leave and find somewhere else to stay.

The amount you offer, or the way you offer, can vary based on the situation, but many landlords have found that this is easier than going through with an eviction. Committing to this method may mean giving up the security deposit, the unpaid rent, and more. It can be costly, but it can also save you from unnecessary stress.

Ultimately, you need to weigh the risks and costs of this method versus standard eviction to decide if it could work for your rental property.

The Logic Behind The Cash For Keys Method

Why is the cash for keys method more successful than shady ways of trying to force your tenant to leave the property, and sometimes, even more successful than going through the eviction process?

The idea is that you are approaching the tenant with a way for everyone to win. Despite their assurances otherwise, bad tenants typically know they are in the wrong. They may try to drag things out to buy themselves more time, but they will end up leaving in the end.

If you have a bad tenant who is not paying rent, approach them first with a calm, rational conversation. Let the tenant know the situation is not working out and you would like to get another tenant in the unit.

Tell them you would like to avoid having to evict them or deal with a mess to clean because they left on bad terms.

The idea is that they are being granted an easy out in which they will not face the trouble that eviction might cause them. They even might make it out with some extra money and without needing to pay back the rent they currently owe. This is a very appealing out for many tenants, and you can regain control of your property quickly.

What Happens When You Use The Cash For Keys Method

Once you offer this appealing deal to the tenant in question, what is going to happen next?

By this point, the tenant should be all ears. After all, any other time they’ve been through this, it has not gone this smoothly. Now that you have their attention, offer this:

“Leave by the end of the month (or 30 days, etc.), and not only will you not have to pay me what you owe in past-due rent, but I’ll pay you $500 to make sure the apartment is clean.”

If that tenant leaves at the end of the month and the apartment is clean enough to earn the $500, then your losses are minimal compared to a massive headache, added stress, and $2,000 to $3,000 in expenses when the eviction is said and done—not to mention the potential damage to the apartment, the primary objective of paying the tenant to leave.

The exact offer you put together might differ from this one depending on the location, amount of rent currently owed, and other terms of the agreement. However, you get the idea. You want to set up a situation that is going to be appealing to them while minimizing the time and money you are going to lose.

No matter how this situation turns out, you are going to lose something. By using the cash for keys method, though, you can control what you lose and how that loss occurs in a more productive way for your long-term business.

Avoiding Bad Tenants Altogether

In an ideal world, every tenant-landlord relationship would be perfect. You would never deal with problem tenants, broken lease conditions, or the question of eviction at all. Unfortunately, that’s not reality, and many landlords have to deal with getting bad tenants out.

You can, however, minimize the risk of bad tenants by ensuring your screening process is thorough, complete, and effective.

How are you currently selecting tenants? Think about your process or talk with your property manager about what types of things they check for when considering tenants. Choosing the right tenant can be a complex process, but having good tenants is the foundation of a solid rental business.

Use the right services to ensure you are choosing the more reliable tenants possible and securing the future of your business!

Start Getting Bad Tenants Out Today

No matter what approach you take to get rid of bad tenants, remember that you should act quickly and with confidence. The longer you wait to regain control, the harder it will be and the more you will probably lose in the process.

You can use the cash for keys method successfully to:

  • Avoid eviction proceedings
  • Speed up the process
  • End a tenancy early

Landlords often do not consider cash for keys because they don’t want to “reward” a bad tenant with a payout.

If you have terrible tenants, it’s time to let go of that thought process. Remember, this is not about teaching the tenant a lesson. Instead, it’s about minimizing the damage you allow the tenant to do to your business. Focus on the future growth of your business and let go of the past today with these simple, but effective ways to get rid of bad tenants.

In the future, avoid the need for these techniques altogether by improving your tenant screening process. Revamp how you choose tenants to reduce bad tenant experiences from the get-go; reliable background checks, credit reports, and more from RentPrep will help you do just that!