A Brief Guide to Getting Rid of a Bad Tenant

Published April 19, 2017

As a landlord, you have a choice: deal with a bad tenant or get the tenant off your property. If you have decided, that getting rid of the tenant is the right decision, you need to develop a game plan.

When you decide that you’ve had enough of dealing with a bad tenant, it is important to come up with a plan for removing the tenant from your property. By creating a plan in advance, you can ensure that everything is done by the book so that your actions will not be challenged in court during an eviction case. As laws can vary from state to state, evicting a bad tenant can involve a lengthy process.

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You have two options whenever you have a bad tenant living on your property. You can either decide to put up with the tenant’s behavior or choose to have the tenant removed from your property. As a landlord, you are obligated to follow the laws of your state with regards to removing a tenant from your property.

Talk to the Tenant

If the issue is not serious enough to warrant immediate eviction from the property, then talking to the tenant might help to yield the results that you are looking for. Instead of sending threatening notices, start by trying to explain the terms that you need the tenant to abide by in order for the tenant to stay and offer the tenant the option to leave on his own.

“While it might sound mean, being as strict as possible will ensure that the rules are followed and actually create a better relationship between you and your tenant. It comes down to the question, Is it better to be feared or loved? In the case of landlording: it is better to be feared.” says Brandon Turner, Senior Editor & Community Manager of BiggerPockets.com.

Ask the Tenant to Leave

If you want results immediately, you can start by simply asking the tenant to leave. While the tenant may not opt to leave until the lease ends, there is a possibility that the tenant is also unhappy with the living situation and will leave when asked. However, for more serious situations that could jeopardize your safety by dealing with the tenant, it might be a better idea to leave the decision up to the courts.

Notify the tenant that you will file an eviction lawsuit if the matter is not resolved. Most tenants do not want to go through process of an eviction because it can ruin the person's credit score and make it nearly impossible to get a loan for years.

Keep Records

As you deal with a bad or problematic tenant, it is important that you keep records of all interactions with that particular tenant. This includes keeping copies of notices that were sent to the tenant, tracking phone calls and email correspondence and taking photographs of any damages that have occurred to the property.

By keeping records of the tenant-landlord interactions, you will make it easier for an attorney to build a case against the tenant. In addition, any contracts regard the rental terms should always be put in writing before the tenant moves in so that there are no disagreements regarding the terms of the lease.

Pursue Legal Action

If the problems are resulting from illegal activities being performed by the tenant on the property or issues related to non-payment, pursuing legal action is typically the best remedy. You can hire an attorney to assist you with preparing an eviction case against the tenant. If you opt to pursue legal action against a tenant, it is important to make sure that all of the rules in your state are followed so that the eviction goes smoothly.

“If your lease agreement wasn’t been based off of the state laws, or if you’re unsure, you’ll want to spend some time researching your current situation, and see if you can win an eviction case.” says Marcela De Vivo of Cozy. “The Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA) provides a more detailed explanation of the legal side of the eviction process. At least 21 states have adopted the URLTA as the foundation for their state-specific landlord-tenant laws.”

By leaving the matter entirely up to the courts, you can ensure that you don't make any mistakes that could jeopardize the outcome.

As you initiate the eviction process for a tenant, it is important to avoid doing any of the following:

●Removing the tenant's property from the residence;

●Physically removing the tenant from the property;

●Harassing the tenant in an effort to make him or her leave (i.e. loud music at nighttime);

●Changing the locks or shutting off the utilities.

Any of these actions could be construed by a court of law as a “self-help” eviction which is illegal in all states. By avoiding such actions, you can avoid having the judge rule against you on the case for failing to abide by the law.

Acting as a landlord for a property can be a stressful and demanding job. Dealing with bad tenants only makes it worse. By coming up with a plan to deal with bad tenants in advance, you can cut down the amount of time it takes to get rid of one. In addition, considering all of these points can also help you to create a better screening process for potential tenants so that you can dodge potential problem applicants.