tenant not moving out

Tenant Not Moving Out On Time: What’s The Right Thing To Do?

A tenant not moving out can be stressful for most landlords. After all, landlords may already have plans to rent out the existing property. They may even have a new contract signed with someone else. What should a landlord do if the tenant won’t leave? Let’s find out.


What Is a Holdover Tenant?

When tenants won’t move out after the lease expires and they stay at the property without permission, they are called holdover tenants. Two kinds of holdover tenancies take effect when tenants do not leave. These include Tenancy at Sufferance and Tenancy at Will.


Tenancy at Sufferance

If the tenant doesn’t move out of the unit after the lease expires and they do not have the landlord’s permission to stay, it is called a tenancy at sufferance. Landlords will typically end this kind of holdover tenancy through a formal eviction. During this time, the tenant must comply with the lease terms, and the landlord must provide a notice to leave.


Tenancy at Will

A tenancy at will is an informal agreement between the two parties. It occurs when the landlord allows the tenant to stay in the unit without renewing the lease. Tenants must continue paying rent and comply with the lease terms. Moreover, either party can terminate the agreement by sending a proper notice.

But, a tenancy at will’s terms is not dictated by the former lease agreement. Instead, local and state laws define it. The previous lease often transforms into a month-to-month agreement. However, other landlord-tenant laws still apply.

This means the landlord must provide proper notice before evicting a tenant for violating the lease. The notice gives the tenant time to resolve the violation or find another living space. Landlords are only allowed to begin eviction proceedings after the notice period. During this time, they must also refuse to accept rental payments.


What Happens if Landlords Accept Payments?

A tenancy at will occurs if the landlord accepts rent payments after the lease expires. This is because accepting payments effectively means entering into an informal lease agreement. The informal lease will continue until either party ends the agreement.


How to Deal With a Tenant Not Moving Out on Agreed Date

Witnessing a tenant not moving out when the lease expires can be frustrating, but landlords are not without options. Here are some ways to deal with a holdover tenant.


1. Know Their Reason: Why Is the Tenant Not Moving Out?

how much time does a landlord have to give a tenant to move outBefore proceeding with eviction, landlords should strive to understand why a tenant doesn’t want to move out. The lease terms may be unclear to them. They may think that simply staying and paying rent will continue the contract.

The tenant might also be struggling to find a new living space. In this case, it’s best to work out a deal with them. Landlords can try to find a good solution that works for both parties. But, they should be careful not to take actions that compromise their rights as a landlord.

Overall, understanding the tenant is key. It’s also best to communicate clearly with them and resolve the situation without taking legal action. These can help landlords avoid long and costly eviction proceedings. It can also preserve landlord-tenant relationships and end the contract on good terms.


2. Understand the Lease Agreement

Landlords should always review the lease agreement before taking action. The contract will often outline what to do when the lease expires. How much time does a landlord have to give a tenant to move out? Did the landlord follow through on sending a notice?

Landlords must comply with the agreement’s terms. Often, they must send a 30 or 60-day notice to the tenant. This allows the tenant to renew the lease or find a different place. Once the landlord takes the proper steps, the agreement may also outline what will happen if the tenant won’t move out on time.

Apart from these, it’s important to know that some contracts allow for automatic renewal. This means the contract will automatically renew monthly unless otherwise agreed upon. In these cases, it’s vital for the landlord to communicate their intentions to the tenant. Otherwise, the tenant has the right to remain in the unit.


3. Review Local and State Laws

Landlords should always review local and state laws on holdover tenancy before doing anything. This is true whether or not the lease agreement is silent about tenants not moving out. That’s because legislation always trumps private agreements. Taking legal action without understanding relevant laws may backfire on the landlord.

Reviewing the law may also help landlords take advantage of the situation and know their rights. For example,¬†Florida’s laws dictate that the landlord has the right to recover double the amount of rent from holdover tenants. The state also dictates how a landlord can take possession of the property from the tenant.


4. Ask the Tenant to Leave

If the tenant refuses to leave, the first step landlords should take is simply asking them to leave. They should explain the lease terms, local laws, and the notice they gave to the tenant. Landlords should also note that an eviction proceeding may start if the tenant refuses.

Tenants are less likely to stay when they hear of eviction proceedings. This is because it taints their rental history, making it more difficult to find a new place. Unpaid rent collections may also tarnish their credit report and harm their credit score.


5. Cash for Keys

If a tenant refuses to leave after 30-day notice, the landlord may offer a “cash for keys” proposal. They can ask the tenant to hand over the keys by a specific date in exchange for a cash sum. This incentivizes the tenant to leave and helps landlords avoid taking legal action.


6. Evict the Tenant

Landlords have the right to start legal proceedings and evict the tenant. This should be the last resort if all else fails. During this period, the landlord must refuse to accept the tenant’s rental payments. Doing so gives the tenant no right to stay or start an informal holdover tenancy agreement.

Unfortunately, the eviction process will be long and tedious. Landlords must have all the paperwork in order. They must also hire a good attorney to finish the proceedings successfully.


What Landlords Cannot Do

It can be frustrating to deal with a tenant not moving out of the property. But, landlords should make sure not to be guilty of any illegal eviction or action. To stay blameless in court, they should steer clear of the following actions:

  • Swapping out the locks without informing the tenant
  • Harassing, forcing, or threatening the tenant to vacate the unit
  • Refusing to repair or maintain the property
  • Shutting off utilities
  • Entering the unit and removing a tenant’s belongings
  • Arranging for a self-help eviction
  • Increasing rent to retaliate against a tenant that does not renew a lease on time


Tread Carefully

Dealing with a tenant not moving out of the property can be difficult. But, landlords should tread carefully when dealing with potential holdover tenants. They should abide by state laws and make sure to follow all the terms in the lease agreement. If so, they have the right to evict the tenant if all else fails.

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