Unwanted Guests: What A Landlord Needs To Know Before Selling

“They wouldn’t leave.”

Unwanted guests in a home? No one ever said the job of a landlord was easy.

In the first place, you want your tenants to feel like the place is “home.” There are good reasons for that:

1. In your gut, you know what “home” represents. You’re in business (and land lording is a business) to provide a service and product that people want and need. A home definitely falls under that criteria! But you also want them to be happy there.

2. The second reason is also good for business. If a tenant likes their home, they are happy to pay for it because they see its value. They may appreciate the neighborhood or their nearby friends, the location, even the affordable price or rent you are charging. Whatever the reason, their enjoyment of the place is ultimately why they pay you every month.

3. Third reason is because a happy tenant is going to stay longer. That’s good for you because you won’t have to keep taking new applications and getting to know a new renter. Low turn-over means lower costs. Cleaning and re-renting the place is a pain. The longer people stay, the better.

4. Finally you want them to be settled and happy because that means they are taking good care of your property. When they are happy, it’s their “home,” not just any old house. Even with no equity in the place, the property is still their residence: where they live, play, entertain friends and spend weekends and holidays. If they see it as a real home and not just a place to stay for awhile, then they are more likely to take good care of it.

So keeping people happy is good. It’s your job as a landlord!

Now here’s the tricky part…and be honest. When it finally hits you that a tenant isn’t happy in that “home” (for whatever reasons — they’re not taking care of it, they’re not paying rent, etc.), do you ever wish they would just, you know, move along…without being asked? Leave on their own?

It would save some headaches, wouldn’t it, if certain tenants would give notice to leave. In fact, you may have just cause to ask them to leave, but you don’t know how to go about making that happen.

“But wait! I never thought of myself as a landlord!”

Take comfort, you’re not alone. This happens a lot, especially with a house that’s already paid for, or left to the family by grandparents or parents. It usually goes something like this: one of the “needier” cousins had to move in for awhile — “to get on their feet.” Maybe since there were no house payments to be made, it just seemed like the nice thing to do to let a friend in need stay there for awhile. The weeks turned into months (or years) and now they reside there dependent on your goodwill. It’s clear they’re not in a hurry to leave.

That makes you a landlord, whether you like it or not. That guest is now a tenant.

Tenant or Guest?

In most cases, a tenant pays rent, keeps the property up, communicates with the owners when necessary. While you might tend to think of “the guest that wouldn’t leave” as squatters, they are in fact tenants if they’ve bought food or paid for certain things in the house. If not, they may be considered licensees, depending on the state and the length of time they’ve been there. Either way, they are no longer considered “guests.” Under the law they have legal rights. Yes, even if you invited them!

You’re hesitant to be the one to tell them the gravy train is leaving the station. Is there anything you can do?

A formal letter often moves them along. You can access a legal document at a website like RocketLawyer to encourage them to leave on their own. That works sometimes. However you may be up against a strong willed and/or reluctant tenant, especially if they’ve been there awhile.

A word of warning: Even if you’re tempted, you can’t railroad them out by turning off the utilities or threatening them. At some point you will need some legal intervention, and not just a well-written letter.

Though legal action varies by state, the next steps involve an eviction… and the sooner the better.

That might sound harsh, but it’s a fact. There comes a time when you decide to sell a house that’s been lingering in an estate or has gone un-touched for awhile. When that time comes, it’s best to take action quickly.

Don’t worry, there’s help.

A unified, clear decision

The first step is making sure all the owners of the house are on the same page. In a lot of cases like this, it’s a group of siblings who must agree on the course of action. When all are in agreement, an eviction, or any decision that has to do with the property, is simple and quick. When there are multiple personalities and conflicting motivations in the mix, it could take years. In cases where there is no clear executor of an estate, a plan of action is complicated by the fact that multiple heirs have an interest in the property. No one person can make a decision without the consent of the others.

I’m not a lawyer, so I can’t and won’t give legal advice. Please don’t take this as such. If you are ready to sell a house, but there are non-paying tenants residing there — and of course if all owners of the property are in agreement — then (and only then) I can help. If all those conditions are not met yet, you may need a lawyer or legal mediation. If you need a real estate professional’s opinion on current values in the local San Antonio market, I’m happy to help.

We can buy your house fast in Texas! Markette Properties presents an unique, simple approach for selling your home! We are real estate investors. We buy houses in Texas just like yours! We are dedicated to the highest professional real estate standards for all of our clients.

Do you want to sell your house fast in Texas for top dollar with the least hassle? Give us a call! (210) 853-2788 or click the button below.

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