Updated June 2022
When you are renting out a property, your tenant legally has a right to be in control of the property during their lease period. While this enables you to collect rent when things are going smoothly, it can also cause problems when your property situation changes.
If you need to get rid of bad tenants or sell the property, it’s time for you to learn how to get rid of tenants without eviction, if possible. Eviction takes a toll on your time, finances, and state of mind. Also, eviction isn’t always necessary!
Do you have good tenants but have no choice but to renovate the property? Talking to them the right way could do the trick.
Do you have bad tenants who you want out ASAP to prevent further grief? It may require some up-front cash, but you’ll be happy with the success you can find with this method in the end.
The point is that you do not always have to rely on courts to get tenants off your property. With these two methods, you can legally do it yourself.
A Table of Contents For Getting Rid of Tenants Without Eviction
- Your Rights As A Landlord
- Communicate The “Why”
- Method #1: The Most Effective Method
- Method #2: Ask Them To Go
- Avoiding Tenant Problems
- What Not To Do
Before you begin to address how to get rid of tenants without going to court, you need to have a full understanding of what your rights are as a landlord and what your tenants’ rights are in regards to occupying your property.
There are some laws in place both federally and on the state-level that protect tenants from greedy landlords. While you are not a greedy landlord who is trying to get rid of tenants for hateful reasons, these laws still affect what you can and cannot do.
As a landlord, you have a right to:
- Sell your property
- Renovate your property
- Evict tenants who are breaking the terms of their leases
- End a contract early if all parties are in agreement
You do not have a right to ask a tenant to leave because you don’t like them, nor do you have a right to ask them to leave because you want to rent to somebody who is willing to pay more. You made a contract with them, and both parties must honor the terms.
That being said, there are still ways that you can get a tenant to move out without evicting them. Your reason for doing this should always be due to changes in business or unruly tenant behavior as opposed to a personal vendetta.
When you’re attempting to get a tenant to move out of their own accord before their lease period is up, it is important that you are very clear with them. There is no need to try to be subtle, and it is illegal to blackmail tenants into leaving your property.
Instead, tell them exactly what is happening.
Here are some examples to help you see what needs to be done:
- I am planning to make some major renovations to this property sooner rather than later. I know that it is inconvenient for you, but I would like to change our lease agreement and help you find a new rental. Download RentPrep’s lease agreement template here to get you started.
- I am planning to stop being a landlord and would prefer to sell this property uninhabited, so I would like to end our contract by this date.
- You are continually late on paying your rent. I will be filing for eviction on July 29, but I would also be OK with you moving out on your own before that date. Let me know what your thoughts are.
As you can see, all of these statements give the tenant a direct and clear reason as to why they must leave the property. In most cases, you do not want to give them a chance for negotiation, as this will only delay your process even further.
When The “Why” Is Flexible
There are some cases, as seen in example three above, that the “why” for wanting a tenant to move out might be flexible. Perhaps they are continually paying rent late or they are keeping pets on the property when the lease specifically forbids them to do so.
If you cite these as a reason that you will be filing for eviction if the tenant does not move out, your tenant may come back to you with an offered solution.
While tenants do not always change, communicating the issue that you are having clearly to your tenant may help both parties work out their problem.
If your tenant shows that they are willing to reach a compromise because they would like to stay on the property, try to work with them. The future of your relationship might be completely different from the past, so don’t be closed-minded to the idea of them staying if they show that they are willing to change.
Sometimes, a tenant simply needs to go. Whether you are selling the property or tired of them paying rent late, it’s time for them to leave.
The “Cash for Keys” method is the most effective way to get a tenant to move out without evicting them.
This method is basically paying your tenants to move out. It may seem counterintuitive to offer money to a bad tenant who already owes you money, but sometimes it is better to quickly end the relationship by putting in a bit more rather than dragging it out in the courts.
Many tenants will happily take the cash for keys offer if given the right circumstances, so there is no harm in offering it. Even bad tenants are likely to take this type of offer as it gives them an out from a bad situation without costing them future opportunities.
How To Use Cash For Keys
Find out how to utilize this particular method to help get renters out of your house.
- Tell Them The Problem & Consequences
Explain the reason that you want the tenant to go. Let them know what will happen if they do not want to go (i.e., eviction, a new landlord will be taking over, etc.). Be sure to mention any damages they will be responsible for if the case moves to eviction.
- Offer Them a Way Out
Let the tenant know that you are willing to give them a lump sum of cash in agreement for leaving the property. Make it clear that this will protect their credit and that they will not owe any remaining balance.
- The Release
If they agree, be sure to get the entire agreement in writing and signed by both parties. Take the keys, change the locks, and ensure that all utilities have been paid. If there is no damage to the property, return their deposit. You’re free!
Landlord & Tenant Relationships Improves
One of the most significant benefits of the cash for keys method is that it is good for both parties.
On the landlord side of things, the tenant will leave quickly. It may cost you some additional money, but you will not waste time, money, or energy on the eviction process. You can immediately take control of your property and begin your next steps.
On the tenant side of things, they are given an unexpected bonus. For tenants that have been delinquent on their rent, they can get out of a tough financial situation without any negative consequences showing up on their credit. This allows them to start fresh.
If you have a good relationship with your tenants or are hoping for them to move out due to changes in your future business model, figuring out how to get rid of tenants without eviction could be as simple as asking them to leave.
Directly ask them if they would be willing to leave.
Offer your understanding and compassion that it is difficult to move without much notice, and do whatever you can to help them in the process. Let them know that you have resources that you are happy to share with them – moving discounts, moving trucks, labor, connections to other landlords in the area, etc..
By telling them that you are willing to help make the moving process more comfortable for them, they will be more willing to re-negotiate your lease period to be shorter.
Having a positive attitude in your approach makes tenants more comfortable and understanding of the “why” behind your request. Any assistance you can provide them will make the move more appealing and give you both an opportunity to be in a better situation.
Are you trying to get rid of a tenant because they’re just plain awful? It happens more often than you think. Over time, landlords learn that the key to avoiding eviction is not knowing how to get tenants to leave, but in learning how to choose the right tenants from the beginning!
Screening potential tenants can be very complicated, but it’s important that you learn how to do so. Here are a few simple tips about how to choose the best tenants in the future:
- Call their references
- Confirm pay stubs with their employer
- Talk with previous landlords, if possible
- Hire a tenant screening service
- Do a thorough background check
When you put more time into choosing the right tenant, you will be able to put less time into getting rid of the wrong one. And that can make a huge difference in your bottom line!
Now that you’ve learned more about how to get rid of tenants without going to court, there are a few things that you must learn to avoid. Otherwise, you could be the one who is taken to court!
No matter what the situation is with your tenant, there are a few things that you are never allowed to do as a landlord without proper court permission:
- Change the locks without notice
- Remove tenant property
- Physically remove the tenant
- Turn off utilities
- Harass them by intentionally causing problems at the property
- Blackmail them
All of these actions are illegal and will get you into trouble. As much as you may want a tenant to leave, it is never right to do these things.
Do not do anything that might make a judge doubt that you are a good person who treated the tenants well. While you don’t want to have to go through the eviction process, you also do not want to hurt your chances of winning an eviction case if necessary.
There’s nothing more frustrating than being stuck with a tenant on a property that you want to sell or with a tenant who doesn’t know the meaning of paying rent on-time. Despite this frustration, you may not want to go through the eviction process.
Instead, focus on the following:
- Communicate why you want the tenant to leave
- Offer them assistance & incentives to leave the property ASAP
- Don’t break any laws
- Choose a better tenant next time
By following these actions, you’ll ensure the safety and prosperity of your business for years to come.