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Evict the Worst Tenants WITHOUT Damage Done & NO Trash Left Behind:

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Getting a tenant to move peacefully and without causing physical damage is hard to do

Tenants being evicted tend to feel victimized and when they get upset they are a risk to do physical damage to the house and leave behind mountains of trash.

It will take a minimum of three weeks to legally evict a tenant and can cost in excess of $500 (Texas Law).

Owners tend to reason that they will keep the security deposit to offset losses but a tenant can cause thousands of dollars in damage in minutes.

Here is a plan that has yet to fail:

Let the tenant know that you have filed to evict them and give them a copy of the eviction papers. (Making sure to follow the courts procedures)

Tell the tenant you will only talk to them 30-minutes before the court hearing and there will be no contact until then. When they laugh at you, tell them you will refund their full security deposit, in cash, the date they move out.

<30 minutes before the hearing> Offer to issue their FULL deposit back to them the day they move out as long as all belongings and trash are removed.

Set a date for them to be out (date needs to be before a date the court will set), add the requirement that they agree to leave the property completely free of belongings and trash which includes small things such as a candy wrapper

Have them sign your prepared agreement and proceed to your court hearing.

Tell the judge that you have reached an agreement and you would like him/her to endorse it (This is the only time I remember telling the Judge how I want them to rule and they agree).

The judge should (and has) accept the agreement and inform the tenant that if they break this agreement, he/she will authorize an immediate eviction.

Finally, once the tenant is officially out, then withdraw the eviction.

It is hard to justify giving the tenant cash to leave after losing money with them already. I can only point out that in a situation such as eviction, there is NO winning! There are only degrees of LOSING!
Evicting a problem tenant only to face a damaged property is bad enough. Give the tenant the one thing that is of use to them.... cash. And offer it when it will be needed.... upon move out! This is also known as a "Cash for Keys" settlement.

Hope this has helped...

Jim Watkins

David Spencer
Keller Williams Northland - Kansas City, MO
Show Me real estate in Kansas City
It's not worth my clients or my time. I offer $500 for keys. Property must be vacant. Never fails and I have saved money.
Feb 14, 2007 10:24 AM
Mark Flanders
Consulting - Silverdale, WA


This is a great article!

Congratulations, it was included in the most recent Unsung and Overlooked collection.

This should get it a little more exposure :)


Feb 16, 2007 11:34 PM
Diane Rice
Rice Prprty Mgmnt & Rlty, LLC, South Holland, IL - Lansing, IL

Hi Jim!  I'm glad Mark Flanders posted this article or i would have missed it.  Time is of the essence in tenant rentals. -IN ILLINOIS-  We need to get the apartments back ASAP when there is non-payment AND we'd rather encourage the tenant to move rather that allowing the court to judge.  When it comes to refunding security deposits there is not much left since the tenant is in arrears.  The owner is not interested in taking a further loss.

I REALIZE YOUR BLOG PERTAINS STRICTLY TO TEXAS.....but regarding Illinois, i have to agree with David Spencer....GIVE them $500 after allowing them to move out completely, rather than wait 1 to 2 months while the rents add up. (Security deposit amounts are sometimes $2400.00!!)

Eviction laws in Illinois differ from Texas....we'd have to first appear, then get the court order for the tenant to move.....if the tenant does not move, we must pay extra money to for the Sheriff to evict.  Indiana laws are easier - we get to physically evict after we pay a small fee.

It would be great if you'd post this article to shed light to others in our "Property Management" group. 


Feb 17, 2007 04:10 AM
Jim Watkins
DFW Mentor - Garland, TX

Mark & Diane,

 Thank you for your generous comments.

One of the reasons I have declined offers to "go national" as a speaker is because I hate it when Dallas gets a national "guru" to come to town. What happens more times than not is, they make big, bold statements about how they did something where they are from but little do they know, Texas law prohibits what they do in their own state.
Last summer a guru from Atlanta was here and he was going on & on about Lease Options (aka Rent to Own) and how they were the best tool you could have. OOOPS!!!! He looked horrified when it was pointed out that Texas has a new law in place, making Lease Options virtually impossible!

My point is, I am genuinely flattered to know that something I came up with in my own state, has reached other states and is of use to others. I have a whole lot of useful tools in my toolbox and I will be sharing a lot more becuase of your comments about out of state use.

Feb 17, 2007 08:32 PM
Diane Rice
Rice Prprty Mgmnt & Rlty, LLC, South Holland, IL - Lansing, IL
Jim:  I'm looking forward to reading them...
Feb 18, 2007 10:14 AM
I would like to know what recourse do I have when a tenant complains to the city (Chicago) about an electrical problem, and then turns around and does not allow me the landlord to correct the problem, and acquires dogs and changes the locks on the doors?
May 06, 2007 11:47 AM
Jim Watkins

I can't say that I know what the local laws say in Chicago. What I would suggest is that you contact the County (Cook?) right away and find out exactly what your options are to get them out of the property.

My leases always have provisions against changing the locks and having pets without permission.
The tenant making a request to have something repaired and then not allowing you in the property to correct it is just a load of crap in my eyes. I would tell you to document everything and then document even more. Take pictures and record phone calls, etc. In this case, its's all CYA. Go find out how to get rid of them since they have violated the lease (assuming you have one in place).

May 15, 2007 01:20 PM