3 Legal yet Sneaky Ways to Get Rid of Bad Tenants

Three greasy pans on stove range.

Being a landlord is hard work. You deal with property issues, taxes, and much more. But what about when your tenants become the problem? How do you get rid of them? Can you sell your rental property with tenants in it? Well, the good news is that there are recourses. With this in mind, let’s look at 3 legal, sneaky ways to get rid of bad tenants.

A run-down white house with weeds all around it and graffiti on the window.
Bad tenants can be a landlord’s worst nightmare.

Looking for legal but maybe-just-a-bit-sneaky ways to get rid of bad tenants? It can be a frustrating process for all parties when you have a difficult tenant, and finding a solution is important. Depending on your situation, you can try these three non-traditional tactics: offering a “cash for keys” deal, creatively going on the offensive, or selling to a renovation team to circumnavigate the eviction process.

Best Case Scenario in a Typical Bad Tenant Eviction Process

Bad tenants cause a lot of headache. Whether this is your first time going staring down the barrel of the eviction process as a landlord or you just want a refresher, here’s generally how things go:

How to Get Rid of a Tenant

Phase 1

If you’re looking to evict, your tenant must have done something wrong. There’s a difference between tenants you don’t like and truly bad tenants. It should go without saying that you must have a solid legal reason to remove tenants. You don’t simply want sneaky ways to get rid of bad tenants; you want creative and LEGAL recourse. Discrimination, retaliation, and reasonable nonpayment do not meet the legal or ethical standard. When we talk about evicting a tenant, that tenant is typically guilty of one or more of the following:

  • Failing to pay rent without legitimate cause
  • Engaging in unruly behavior at the property
  • Engaging in illegal activity on the property

Phase 2

Having spent several months patiently discussing payment and/or remediation options to no avail, the landlord moves on to the eviction process. This involves placing an Official Notice on the tenant’s front door and hiring an attorney to file the eviction papers in court.

Phase 3

Now comes the wait. When you eventually get in front of a judge, you get to present your evidence. Should your problem tenant choose to do so, they may present their side as well. If the judge grants you a “set out,” the bailiff, landlord, and movers will meet at the property to execute the eviction and remove the tenant. In some cases, landlords may contact authorities to be present for this step. Use your judgment.

Phase 4

Time to make repairs and get the house back in shape. At least in theory, you can bill these cleanup efforts to the former tenant. However, you’re probably going to have a very difficult time collecting on that.

Phase 5

Yay — the home stretch! Once your property is listed again, it’s time to take applications, show the unit, run background and credit checks, ask for pay stubs, and go through that whole rigmarole. But once you place your new renter (hopefully a more responsible one), you can finally get back to your life pre-eviction process!

"For Rent" sign in a window with a number to call.

3 Sneaky Ways to Get Rid of Bad Tenants without Going Through the Eviction Process

For landlords who want to know how to get rid of a tenant without all the mess and effort of the eviction process, here are a few ideas.

Offer a Cash Reward

This one comes from The Bay Area Management Group (though I’m sure not originally), and it can make a lot of sense in the right circumstances. While the idea of handing money to a nonpaying tenant may sound unappealing, it might actually be worth it. Considering the effort and expenditures that can go into evicting a tenant, offering a cash reward to leave may just be a more financially sound decision for you than going through with an eviction.

Go On the Offensive

When you’re looking for sneaky ways to get rid of bad tenants, sometimes thinking creatively is your best friend. Angela Woodhull, a landlord in Florida, reports using a hilarious problem tenant strategy that, while we cannot recommend wholesale, seems to have worked well in her situation.

Basically, she had a horrible renter who was doing some shady, illegal stuff and hadn’t paid a cent of rent in six months. In a bold move, she basically showed up at the home with her friends and began living there. They kicked back, put on the game, had a few beers, and hung out until the tenant arrived. Even a past landlord of the bad tenant (this guy had a real reputation) showed up to watch the sit-in unfold. I encourage you to read Angela’s whole story for a good laugh.

Sell the Property Without Evicting

As effective as offering a “cash for keys” deal can be, it obviously requires a financial hit. And as entertaining to read about as the second strategy is, it requires a lot of effort plus the potential for some unsettling conflict… and no positive outcome is guaranteed.

If the sound of going through all of this makes you tense, there are other options. Of course, you can go through the lengthy, standard eviction process outlined above. That’s on the table, but it’s expensive and undeniably more difficult right now with the COVID-19 moratorium in place. Sound like a nightmare?

An elbow bump from two people in suits.
Upward Home Solutions logo.

How would you like to cash out and not deal with the problem anymore? While evicting bad tenants who don’t pay their rent can be an arduous process, you don’t actually have to go through all of that if you don’t want to.

As a cash for houses company, we sometimes get the question: “Can I sell my rental property with tenants in it?” Absolutely you can. UHS buys properties even when landlords are in the middle of evictions. We’ll even buy if you’ve tried going through the eviction process and have had trouble getting it done. This is an attractive option for landlords because it lets them leave the sneaky ways to get rid of bad tenants to us.

So whether you have tenants on the lease or not, whether the property is occupied or not, selling to UHS has been a welcome solution for many landlords over the years.

The Final Word on Getting Rid of Bad Tenants

You have options. And while I know you’re looking for sneaky ways to get rid of bad tenants, some of the best ways are pretty straightforward and don’t even require you to suffer through the eviction process! No matter how frustrating the whole thing can seem, there’s always a way forward. Whether you end up trying to “buy out” your bad tenant, get a little creative, or sell to a team of local renovators we wish you the very best!

cleardot