In a previous article, we discussed tenant eviction laws for North Carolina. If the tenant drags their feet and every step of the eviction must be followed all the way to the Sheriff forcibly evicting the tenant, the whole process can take more than 45 days. That is a lot of lost rent, headache, and hassle. Other than a court-ordered eviction, is there anything else a landlord can do to get deadbeat tenants to move out?
There is the right way to encourage a tenant to move out without an eviction and there is the wrong way. If you take the wrong path, you could very well end up in court yourself and it will not be pretty.
The Wrong Way to Get the Tenants to Move Out Without an Eviction
As a landlord, you do not want to take a cowboy approach to matters. This is going to get you in trouble with the law and could very well cost you more and take longer than a court ordered eviction. Unlawful, cowboy landlord tactics would include changing the locks, shutting off the utilities, nailing boards over the doors and windows or removing their possession from the house. We never, ever, recommend or endorse such maneuvers. There are, however, legal ways to encourage tenants to move out.
Most tenants would rather keep the peace and pay their rent. Often there has been recent financial problems that have trashed their budget and is causing an immense amount of stress. They feel bad about not being able to pay the rent. Often a little understanding and calm conversation goes a long way.
If they have been good tenants in the past and it looks like this is a temporary problem, perhaps an additional rental payment can be made to catch things up after things settle down. Just letting the tenant know that you are willing to release them from the lease agreement in order for them to find a cheaper place could be a load off their mind.
So, before running down to the courthouse, why not take a moment to have a face-to-face chat with your tenants. See if you can calmly work out a mutually beneficial solution. Not only will it save both of you a lot of unnecessary time and expense – but you will have much less stress as well.
The Right Way to Get the Tenants to Move Out Without an Eviction
As a landlord, you are bound by the terms of the lease agreement. You cannot evict without a just cause. A just cause would include non-payment of rent, damage to the rental or failure to live up to the terms of the lease. If you do not want to go through the court, try these reverse psychology moves.
Cash for Keys
Cash for Keys is a term used more often in the sale and purchase of real estate, but the concept can apply here as well. You offer some sort of financial reward for their polite vacating of the premises. This can be a simple approach to get tenants to move out. Some landlords feel that this approach is too soft – as if you are conceding to or approving of the tenant’s bad behavior. How much is the strong macho landlord image worth to you?
Imagine that your tenant is one month behind in rent amounting to $800. That is covered by their security deposit (assuming no damage to the apartment). You take them to court for an eviction and it takes the full month-and-a-half with a loss of $1,200 (i.e. an unpaid judgment). Instead, you go to the tenants and tell them that you will apply the security deposit to pay the rent due and if the unit is undamaged, you will pay them $200 to move out in 7 days. You just saved $1,000 and a ton of hassle and the end result is the same – you have your rental back in your control.
Rent the Moving Van
If you feel hard about paying your deadbeat tenants to move out, consider renting a moving van for them. The effect is the same. You are doing them a favor, as the nice and understanding landlord that you are, to help them find a place more suited to their income. You can then turn around and quickly rent the unit.