Tips for difficult tenants at moveout time

I’m just curious if anybody has tips for handling difficult tenants at moveout time without escalating the situation to the point that I am risking damage to the house. I’ve had this happen a few times and have been hardnosed with people about the rules. It backfired badly once, but for the most part people try to work within the rules and I try to accommodate reasonable requests.

I’ve got a tenant who gave notice the second that they will be leaving at the end of the month. This is slightly less than the 30 days notice that is required. I’m not one to make a big deal of this, but they only paid the difference between the deposit and the last months rent (it’s not technically due till the 15th) and started giving me trouble about showing the place. They finally told me they are going to be out on the 19th, so I can start showing it then.

My first inclination is to wait till the 16th and post notice on the door, and if they aren’t out on the 19th to file for possession. Of course, this can make them mad and they might destroy the place. Is there anyone here that has found a way to resolve similar situations without backing down or escalating them?

Each situation is different and depends on the history and psychology of the tenant.

I try not to negotiate from a position of weakness, even if it means bluffing like I’m playing a hand of blind Poker.

It usually works. Confidence in your position and statements, coupled with never having pulled a punch in previous encounters, makes the tenant take me more seriously.

Also, being a tad unpredictable helps, too. Change your routine and demeanor. Keep them off balance.

Meantime, if I sense the tenant is gonna have trouble moving on the schedule he gives me, notwithstanding the lease and the law, I offer them their deposit back, in full, without questions, if they out by ‘x’ date, and the place is clean.

“The place being clean” is not the point. So, if they’re out, and there’s dirt, give them the money and praise Allah (or someone).

If the deposit return won’t impress the tenant, I haven’t collected a big enough deposit.

In that case, it’s a matter of balancing between the cost of an attorney-driven eviction, and how much cash I have available to bribe the tenant with.

It’s simpler (wiser?) to offer the dead-beat in-the-making the money I would have otherwise spent on the eviction, in order to regain possession of the unit faster, than going through with an eviction, but only if they move out faster than what an eviction would take.

“This Friday at noon.” works good.

If the tenant is obstreperous and/or crazy, I just go the legal route. Crazy people do what crazy people do …make crazy decisions based on craziness.

The rest just take the money, and feel like they won the lottery, especially if they got more than their deposit back, and lived rent-free.

It’s still more profitable to offer ‘cash for keys’ and repo the unit faster, than risking a full-on eviction catastrophe.

Notwithstanding an eviction, even after you get a judgment, the tenants can go berserk on the unit, and then skip the night before the sheriff shows up. Then, you’ve spent money evicting …lost rent …and have to fix crap anyway …and then never recover any of those losses.

So, cash for keys is my solution, even if it means paying out of pocket (which hasn’t happened to me in years).

Hope that helps.

I would just ignore the evac. date they offered, and say, “I’ll give you $1500 (their full deposit) back, no questions asked, if you’re out by Friday, at noon, and the place is clean. Sound good?” They always say, “Yes.”

Go with your first inclination. If he’s being difficult, IMO negotiate the showing for the last two weeks like the 14th or 15th. I usually don’t advertise an occupied apartment until the last two weeks anyway. The last two weeks are usually the applicants who know their time is running out and will come over with cash to hold the apartment the same day. The first two weeks of the month are usually the idiot look-e-loos who want to pencil me at 3:15pm with 20 other appointments that day until they have seen a hundred places to make up their mind. Like I have nothing better to do with my time than show indecisive people an apartment. It’s like, I’ve posted the pictures of the inside online, why do they need to waste my time by booking 20 different appointments in one day? In fact, the moment someone tries to pencil me in for a quarter or half an hour instead of by the full hour like 6pm I disqualify them over the phone right away–I refuse to book it.

Does it came from a point that you need a help from sheriffs and police for you to force people to get out from your property?

No, he moved out as he said he would. I sent him a letter reminding him of the conditions we both agreed to at move out time and he got nasty with me, accusing me of always looking out for money (I think he meant this to be a negative thing). I got a certified letter from his wife complaining of all the stuff I’ve done wrong in the last five years.

Now I don’t mind any of this complaining, but it put me at a risk of them getting mad and not cleaning or tearing up the house. Part of this is my fault for allowing them to pay rent on the 15th of the month (no time by the time they didn’t pay rent to react), and part of it is just the reality of renting in a tenant friendly state. They probably cost me a months rent but I doubt I sue them for it.

I was just curious if anyone had a solution other than the right one (bigger deposit) or letting them walk all over me.

Once we start accepting late rents without collecting a confiscatory late fee; and/or not made sure the tenant had something to lose, by not following the rules, we’ve pretty much opened ourselves to becoming doormats.

I’d say you came out smelling like a rose, considering what you outlined.

I am going to start looking at other states to invest in. I don’t like the landlord tenant law in this state regarding evictions, deposits, etc. It’s too tenant friendly and basically lets the tenant get away with this stuff. You’ve given me a couple ideas to use, but I don’t think they are a good fit for the higher end rentals I have.

You are right about the late rent, although in this case the tenant called me about four years ago and asked to move the rent to the 15th. I agreed and didn’t make them prefund it half a month because I cannot evict after taking a partial payment. In hindsight, I should have offered a new lease. It didn’t occur to me.

Some states have strict guidelines about charging late fees on rent payments. I was able to dodge this by give a rental discount if payed on or before the due date. Let’s say market rent is $800. I advertised my units at $850 and then wrote in the lease agreement that if they pay the rent before 5 pm on the 1st (or whatever date you choose), then the rent is $800. What a way to get on time payments! Plus everyone is happy - even the tenants.

Yes, offering discounts is the only way to do that in Kansas. I guess the other thing is to allow pets and you can ask for a month and a half’s rent. I’ve become a lot less negative on pets and have been allowing them more just because with a month and a halfs deposit the tenants tend to behave a little better when it comes to following the rules.

My general policy is to not rent to the kind of people that need discounts on the rent to behave appropriately.

When it comes to pets, not only do I charge an additional pet deposit, but the tenant must pay “rent” for the pet as well. Generally it is $25 to $50 extra. If they love their pooch, it shouldn’t be a problem. Plus it covers whatever damage maybe caused by the critter - or at least a really good cleaning when they move out.