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How to make a tenant want to leave?

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Technically, you may advise your renter to pack his or her belongings and go, even if it means scribbling the message on a snotty piece of scrap paper and having your mother deliver it!

But I’m assuming you’re actually curious about the following:

  1. Is it lawful for you to ask your renter to leave?
  2. If that’s the case, how do you notify your renter to vacate?
  3. What happens if he or she refuses to leave?
  4. Am I correct?

Is it lawful for you to ask your renter to leave?

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There is no legislation prohibiting you from merely “asking” your renter to leave. Your renter, on the other hand, may have legal reasons to reject your request and stay on the premises, so it’s a good idea to figure out where you stand first and what amount of notice required.

So, let’s go through the two most common situations in which landlords may “issue notice”:

Mutual termination/surrender tenancy: evicting your renter does not necessarily have to be a bloodbath, but it often is! When a thoughtful and reasonable approach is used, it is entirely common to terminate tenancies before the expiry date in a friendly way without rent arrears through tenancy agreements. Many tenancies end due to mutual agreement, in which both parties agree to simply “surrender” the tenancy.

If the landlord or real estate has a legitimate cause for forcing the tenant to leave, for example, not paying rent all that is required is an open and honest discussion to agree to a mutual termination.

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If you’re in the midst of a fixed lease and want your renter to leave as soon as possible, a mutual termination seems to be your only choice. Basically, your renter must agree to go, or you will have to wait until the end of the tenancy or fixed-term tenancy.

Eviction: You may serve a Section 8 eviction notice if your tenant has broken the conditions of the lease and therefore given you grounds for eviction (for example, if your tenant has fallen behind on rent as per the lease agreement). Even under these dire circumstances, you would aim for a mutual termination if at all feasible, since it is nearly usually less messy.

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If you’re still in a fixed-term lease that’s about to expire, you may ask your tenant to vacate by serving them with a section 21 notice, as long as you give them at least two months’ notice. You only need to provide one month’s notice if your tenancy is periodic (a tenancy becomes “periodic” after the set term if no new contract is signed) and you get rent on a monthly basis before you leave the property.

How do you inform your renter that he or she must vacate?

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Regardless of whether you’re in the midst of a fixed tenancy or not, the best way is to set up a meeting in person or over the phone to have an honest and open discussion:

  • Explain why you want them to go in a tactful manner.
  • Be thoughtful and compassionate;
  • Allow as much time as possible for them to prepare;
  • Make every effort to be accommodating;
  • Assure them that they have done nothing wrong and that the evidence is merely circumstantial.

After the conversation, your renter will either understand and cooperate, or they may drag their feet and perhaps give you hell.

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If you and your tenant have decided to mutually terminate the lease (because you want them to go before the end date), you should either email them or write them a letter by recorded delivery outlining what you’ve agreed to, including the termination date (i.e. when the tenant has agreed to vacate).

Even if you don’t get along, I’d attempt to have a “honest conversation” by following the principles above. However, if that fails (which is probable given your strained relationship), he or she may serve a Section 21 or 8 notice, depending on which is most appropriate.

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As a general rule, serving a Section 21 eviction notice is always easier and cleaner, because it informs the tenant that you do not wish to continue the tenancy after the contracted end date, so the landlord will always have ‘mandatory grounds for possession,’ unlike serving a Section 8 eviction notice, which can be challenged by the tenant and result in a long and drawn-out eviction process.

So, although though Section 8 is intended to evict renters in violation, if you have three months until the end of the lease with a tenant who has violated the tenancy’s T&Cs, it may be worth serving a Section 21 instead of Section 8. The truth is that removing your renter takes considerably longer than 3 months if he or she fights you and refuses to accept your eviction reasons!

What if your renter refuses to vacate the premises?

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Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer, and the best course of action is generally determined by the specific circumstances. The only sound advice I can give you is to avoid acting on emotion and to avoid taking things into your own filthy little hands since this is a certain way to undermine your position and transfer authority over to your renters.

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Whatever you choose to do, be sure you stay within the bounds of the law. One of the most common errors landlords do in these circumstances is to start ‘harassing’ their tenants with a torrent of text messages and phone calls without realising it, giving the renter a counter-claim. Please stay away!

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