How to Get Tenants to Move Out Without an Eviction

Unfortunately, sometimes tenants can be a total nightmare. If you need a bad tenant out fast, but don’t want to go through the eviction process, here’s what to do.

Reasons You’d Want the Tenant Out

Before you decide to kick your tenant out, it’s important to note valid reasons for wanting them to vacate. Valid reasons include failing to pay rent and violating lease terms, such as:

  • Engaging in illegal activities on the property
  • Violating a “no pets” policy
  • Subleasing if prohibited
  • Causing serious property damage
  • Being a nuisance to others (i.e. various noise complaints)
  • Falsifying information on the rental application

If this is the case, here’s what you should do to solve the problem.

Talk to Them

Even the worst tenants would rather keep the peace and pay their rent than get evicted or have the cops get involved. If you have a tenant who is being difficult, failing to pay rent, and/or violating lease terms, sit down and talk with your tenant. Before you do anything, you should make them aware of the problem and see what they have to say. If the tenant has been good in the past, the current issue may just be temporary. If it is, try talking to the tenant and see if they can make up rent payments or change their behavior. You should also let them know that you will be willing to break the lease in order for them to find a cheaper renting alternative (if they are very behind on rent payments and cannot pay, for instance).

Cash for Keys

The term “cash for keys” in the rental business is used to refer to paying off a tenant to vacate the premises. This can be a pretty simple and straightforward approach to getting your tenants to move out fast. Some landlords believe that this method lets a bad tenant get off too easily and validates their misbehavior. However, if you’re in a pinch and need to get them out now, cash for keys may be the quickest and easiest way to do so.

First of all, you should talk to the tenant and explain the situation to them. They need to be aware of the fact that you do not want them staying in the unit any longer. Then, you should describe the consequences to the tenant and inform them that the law will get involved if they do not cooperate. Offer the incentive of cash for keys and discuss a move out date. If the tenant agrees, make sure to show up the day they are moving out to inspect the unit, obtain the keys, and give them cash.

You can decide how much to pay the tenant by exploring various options.

  • Security deposit: Consider paying back the security deposit that was paid at the beginning of the tenancy.
  • Pay the difference: Multiply the monthly rent amount by the remaining months in the lease term to make up the difference.
  • Moving costs: Offer to help with the costs of moving, such as moving trucks/movers.
  • Whatever you can afford: Come up with a flat amount of something like $500. If you can’t afford much else, do what you can. Money should be enough of an incentive for a tenant to move out, especially if they aren’t in good standing. Regardless of what you pay them, you’ll be saving more money in the long run by getting them out.

What Not to Do

When you really want a tenant out, landlords may be up to do just about anything. However, you should always remain calm and professional and ensure you are being legally compliant. Many landlords make the mistake of violating lease terms when they’re trying to get a tenant to leave. Remember to never:

  • Change the locks while the tenant is still residing in the unit
  • Remove tenants’ belongings from the property
  • Fail to pay or turn on included utilities like water, heat, or air conditioning
  • Threaten the tenant
  • Directly order the tenant to leave

If you choose to use any of the illegal methods above, you could be getting yourself into big trouble. When you’re already dealing with a bad tenant, a lawsuit is the last thing you should want.