No Self-Help for Bad Tenants

underbridge
Creative Commons License photo credit: mangpages

They haven’t paid rent in months and they’re breaking a couple other lease terms and even though you’ve asked them to leave, those problem tenants are still on your property. So, what do you do? You change the locks, right? Wrong!

As tempting as it is to lock out the problem tenants and put their property on the lawn, you just can’t do it. Locking out your tenants is illegal and will only lead to future legal problems and your tenants will stay right where they are for much longer. Even if the tenant is repeatedly destroying your property, you don’t have the right to lock them out once you’ve let them live there.

Once you’ve approved a tenant and let them move into your property, they gain several rights that provide them with a legal right to occupy the residence and give the landlord limited rights to their own property. Generally, this is a good thing and beneficial for all, but in the case of problem tenants it can make evictions a protracted event and quite expensive. But the cost of using a self-help remedy can be even greater as most states allow the tenant to sue for damages and penalties and some are even allowed to stay on the premises.