tenants won't leave

In this post I’m going to cover 3 ways to get tenants out that won’t leave.  Do you have tenants that won’t leave after you’ve given them a 30-day notice?  Maybe you have tenants that won’t leave even after their lease has expired?  In either case, this blog post will help.

In my experience of self-managing nearly 40 of my own rental properties, I’ve dealt with all kinds of people.  Tenants fall within one of the following 3 categories:

  • problem-free tenants
  • problem-always tenants
  • “where did we go wrong?” tenants

Let me discuss each of these in a little more detail.

The problem-free tenants

Don’t you love these tenants and wish they would rent from you forever?  They always pay their rent on time, and you only hear from them if they have a maintenance request.  No point talking about this group of tenants in this post because, after all, they never cause you any problems.

FREE Real Estate Investing Checklist.  Instant Access.

The problem-always tenants

These are the tenants that just can never seem to pull it together, and they’ve always got a good reason why they can’t pay their rent.  

Oh, but when something goes wrong with the property, they want it fixed pronto.  You’re always on them about paying rent – or getting a trash service lined up – or not throwing loud parties in the middle of the night, etc.  You know the ones I’m referring to.

The “where did we go wrong?” tenants

These are tenants that start out well, but then have problems down the road paying their rent. Maybe they lost their job.  Perhaps they began fulfilling their dreams of becoming a crack-head.  Could be they blew all their money gambling.  

Whatever the reason – their fault or a series of unfortunate circumstances – they’ve stopped paying their rent and have shut off communication with you.

Why tenants won’t leave

If tenants won’t leave, it’s for one primary reason: they have no money and nowhere else to go.

While this may seem obvious, as landlords, I think we’re tempted to take the situation personally when tenants won’t leave after a 30-day notice or after their lease expires.  

We think they are trying to screw us over.  We try to figure these people out and lay awake at night contemplating what went wrong, and why they stopped paying.  Don’t waste your time and energy.  

This isn’t a dating relationship.  It’s not personal (in most cases).  They stopped paying because they can’t pay.  Whether it’s because they lost their job or decided to stock their kitchen cabinets full of heroin, it doesn’t matter.  

tenant won't leave

Here’s how you get rid of them     

First of all, don’t do any stupid or illegal.  Here’s what you CAN’T and SHOULDN’T do:

  • threaten them
  • shut off their utilities (if you’re paying them)
  • throw them out in the street (literally)

I know how frustrating these situations can be – trust me – I’ve been there many times, but the last thing you want to have happen is for you to end up in jail.

Here are the steps you SHOULD take.

Step #1: Talk To Your Tenant

Some people have a funny way of “dealing” with problems.  They shut off communication, bury their head in the sand, and call it a day.  If you’re dealing with a tenant who is completely unresponsive, then proceed to step #2.  

However, if your tenant is an adult who actually acts like an adult (imagine that), then have a conversation with them, and maybe you can work something out.  After all, even upstanding people occasionally fall on hard times.  

I find that responsible, mature people will usually do whatever they can to get their rent paid. Maybe there are rent assistance programs out there you could refer them to.  Maybe you could work out some kind of installment plan.  Perhaps there is some painting work or cleaning they could help with in exchange for paying down what they owe.

Do what you can to talk with your tenant, and see if something can be worked out.  However, if all else fails, move on to step #2.  

Step #2: Send Them A Letter Of Intent To Evict

This is simply a letter that gives them so much time to pay what they owe, or you will file an eviction.  While this is a letter you send to the tenant, you’ll want to consult with an attorney in the state you’re in to determine the required wording such as how much notice is required, etc.  

In some states, notice may not even be required, but I think it’s good practice to send a letter of intent to evict even if it’s optional.

Step #3: File An Eviction

You’ve attempted unsuccessfully to speak with the tenant, and you’ve sent them a letter of intent to evict, and they still won’t budge.  Now, it’s time to file the eviction.  Check out this post for evicting a tenant.


In this post, I’ve covered three steps to follow when tenants won’t leave after you’ve served them 30 days notice or the lease has expired.  I hope it helps.

About the author

Real Estate Hacks

Recent Posts