How To Evict Tenants Without Property Damage

by Jim Watkins, DFW Mentor

A No-Win Situation

TightropeGetting 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.

Eviction laws differ from state to state, but they all take time and cost money. In Texas, for example, it will take a minimum of three weeks to legally evict a tenant and can cost in excess of $500.

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.

The Cash for Keys Program

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. (Make sure to follow the court’s 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!

DFW Mentor provides mentoring services for those interested in real estate investing.

American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services related to your commercial housing investment, including real estate forms, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at
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