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by Robert Griswold
Arm wrestlingQ: I manage a very large rental property and while the majority of our residents are great, we do have an occasional “problem tenant” who is making life miserable for neighbors.
Is there anything you can suggest? A: You may be able to negotiate a voluntary move-out with your tenant.
Some rental owners have negotiated agreements with their problem tenants in which they forgive the unpaid rent if the tenant agrees to leave by a mutually agreed-upon date.
Other owners have agreed to refund the tenant’s full security deposit immediately after the tenant has vacated the property (as long as no significant damage has been done to the property).

Although you may feel strongly that your tenant should keep up his end of the lease, you may come out ahead by avoiding legal action and not having to worry about the problem anymore.

You are also minimizing the chance that your problem tenant will chase away the great tenants that you want to keep.
Of course, you should never count on a verbal agreement, and any voluntary move-out agreement must be in writing.

This column on issues confronting tenants and landlords is written by property manager Robert Griswold, author of Property Management for Dummies and Property Management Kit for Dummies and co-author of Real Estate Investing for Dummies.

E-mail your questions to Rental Q&A at [email protected]. Questions should be brief and cannot be answered individually. Copyright 2009, Inman News

For more about Robert Griswolds latest book, see Property Management Kit for Dummies, or visit the AAOA Store.

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  • Ray

    I am a firm believer in this type of resolution. But with smaller landlords this is a difficult pill to swallow.

  • Margaret Williams

    This article was interesting but it did not address the question that was posed, which was what to do about a problem tenant who is making life miserable for neighbors. Instead, this article was about tenants who were not paying their rent. I would like to see the original question answered. Not all problem tenants are problems because they don’t pay their rent.

  • Rob

    The question was answered… the “unpaid rent” refers to the rent due and owing to the Landlord for the remainder of the Term of the Lease. The answer was not about a tenants who aren’t paying their rent. He’s saying to offer the problem tenant an early end of their lease voluntarily and the Landlord would forgive the obligation the tenant has to pay for the upcoming months that would be due if they stayed (or that would be due if the Landlord terminated the lease due to the bad behavior – provided that state law would permit acceleration of the rent – some states frown upon that for residential leases). I agree that this is a hard decision to make for smaller landlords, who would lose the revenue stream.

  • jon

    You can always drop kick them. (on second thought, that may be illegal)

  • Flash Gordon

    In theory,this solution sounds good,however,one can never know if the tenant will uphold their end of the agreement. In that event,a legal eviction process would be necessary,thereby giving the tenant more time to cause problems.

  • MsRose

    Now see when I think problem tenant its like problem child. The rent isn’t the issue its the bad behavior and breaking the lease by not following the rules. I am dealing with that now with 1 tenant that has gone so far as to threaten me physically. There is NO negotiating rent or “letting” her out of her lease. She simply doesnt like rules She is just being evil.
    Hands are tied until it goes through the legal process.
    I have tried negotiation, I have called the police, I have called the housing authority and they all say the same thing. Until a judges signature is on an eviction there is nothing I can do.
    How do you “Nip that in the bud”?

  • Ramapriya Ruiz

    It can be frustrating! I just spoke to an attorney. Yes, one can offer to buy out a tenant and draw up an agreement accordingly which the tenant signs. However the agreement may not be legally binding, especially if there is rent control.

  • Marie

    Had a tenant who did not pay rent for two months in PA. I tried paying her to get out, it didn’t work. Did everything to the letter and with in the law. She won the court hearing because I could not get to the hearing on the date set by the court. I live out of state and am a smaller landlord. She said because she won she could live there free as long as she liked. She did finally move and the damage is in the thousands. Get an attorney! Do not trust the courts, even with the right paperwork and proof they favor the poor helpless little tenant.

  • Have you checked out NoPayTenants.com?

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