A messy living room in a house with problem renters.

They’re weeks (or even months) behind on the rent. They’re trashing your house. They’re disturbing the neighbors. They’re disrespectful, or worse, dangerous. If you’re a landlord, having a problem tenant is probably one of your worst nightmares.

While you can cross your fingers and hope for the best when renting, there is always a chance you’ll run into trouble. There are some essential steps you can take upfront to prevent issues from arising altogether. But if those don’t work and you find yourself stuck in a bad situation, you also have options if you need to sell a rental property with tenants.

Avoiding Problems

1. Background Checks

Don’t rely on first impressions when it comes to selecting a new tenant. Though they might seem lovely, they could be hiding a lot of nastiness behind their smile.

Make sure you require a credit check. Ask for references—and actually call them! Speak with their employer. Do everything you can to make sure you know what kind of person you’re about to allow into your home.

If you don’t, your failure to do your due diligence could end up costing you dearly. If you don’t have the time to handle this yourself, hire someone to do it for you. It’s not a step you can afford to skip.

2. Know the Law

The laws and regulations that govern the landlord-tenant relationship vary widely depending on where you live. It’s incredibly important that you as a landlord be intimately familiar with the laws for your specific municipality.

If you find yourself saddled with a problem tenant, the last thing you want is to find out that you’re doing something illegal that may compromise your position in a disagreement. Florida law covers everything from the landlord’s access to the property to the tenant’s right to withhold rent and more. So read up on it!

3. Know Your Options

While you should always go into a new tenant relationship in the spirit of good faith and optimism, you should also be prepared in case things go south. Don’t wait until you have a bad tenant on your hands to start researching your options for dealing with them. At that point, they’ll have the upper hand, and you’ll be scrambling to find a solution. Learn everything you can now, and hope against hope that you’ll never have to use it!

Getting Out

If things do fall apart, you may find yourself backed into a corner by a nightmare tenant. If you’re fed up with their excuses and ready to take action, you have two main options for how to move forward.

1. Bring In an Attorney

If you’re hoping to start eviction proceedings, you’ll need to retain legal counsel and eventually take your tenant to small claims court. Hopefully, you have an airtight lease in place and have been documenting any interactions with the tenant. If not, things could drag out.

The eviction process can take a while and end up costing quite a bit, no matter how well you’ve prepared. Expect to pay legal fees and be out months of rent on your property, not to mention any costs incurred in repairing damages the tenants caused.

2. Sell for Cash

If you’re fed up with the headache of it all, know that you can sell a house with tenants. You’ll want to consult local laws first to make sure you’re giving ample notice, but there is nothing to prohibit you from selling a property you own.

While selling through traditional channels may have been an option with agreeable tenants, it’s very unlikely that you’ll get problem tenants to agree to things like open houses and keeping the house in good shape for regular viewings. If you need to sell a rental property with tenants who are less-than-stellar, your best bet is probably to sell to a cash home buying company.

If you’re looking to sell a house with tenants, Meridian Trust can help. We’ve purchased thousands of rental properties in Florida and will work directly with you to close in less than 30 days. Call our team today to learn more.

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