Holdover Tenant – what happens if the old tenants won’t move out?

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So what happens if the old tenants won’t move out when they are supposed to?

There are a number of reasons why tenants won’t move out when they are supposed to… can’t find new housing… delayed job transfer… new housing isn’t ready yet… or they just changed their minds. This can pose a HUGE problem if the property has already been released to a new tenant.

In South Carolina, if possession of a dwelling cannot be delivered due to a previous tenant, the landlord is not responsible for damages if they made reasonable efforts to deliver possession and “the aggrieved person may recover from that person an amount not more than three months’ periodic rent or twice the actual damages sustained, whichever is greater, and reasonable attorney’s fees”. In other words, the previous tenant that failed to move out can be responsible for up to 3 times the rent and attorney’s fees to the new tenant that could not take possession.

There are 5 steps that a landlord can take to minimize the likelihood of a holdover tenant.

  1. Provide notice to vacate in writing in accordance with the lease or written acceptance of notice from the tenant. If the lease states 30 days, make sure it is 30 days. Some leases state that 30 days must be a calendar month so read carefully and plan accordingly.
  2. Communicate with the tenant regarding move out instructions, when and where to return keys, prorated rent, etc. Ask if they plan to vacate on the last day of the lease or if they plan to vacate sooner – this can open up a discussion if they are confused or not planning to move.
  3. If the old tenants indicate that they don’t plan to move or that they plan to move later than expected, inform them of their liabilities under the South Carolina Landlord and Tenant Act and provide them with a copy.
  4. Consult a real estate or property management attorney immediately.
  5. Once the tenant is a holdover tenant, in the property after the end of their lease, file for eviction immediately.

Dealing with a holdover tenant situation and a new tenant that cannot take possession when expected can be a stressful situation for all involved. Communication and documentation can be the key to avoiding this frustrating situation.

To discuss how ROG Coastal Property Management can manage your investment property, please call us at (843) 972-3865 or get a free rental analysis at www.rogcoastalpropertymanagement.com.

Property Manager Blog


Our property manager, Lindsey Blackburn, spent yesterday in a class offered by the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM). The class was Risk Awareness and was focused on how to determine the source of risk and whether to accept it, avoid it, reduce it or transfer it.

An example of AVOIDing the risk would be to not own or manage a property built prior to 1978 to avoid the risk of lead based paint. Purchasing insurance is the most common example of TRANSFERing risk and an investment property owner should speak to an experienced insurance agent, like Kristi Kalberer with Absolute Insurance Agency, LLC to evaluate how much risk can and should be transferred via an insurance policy. A landlord may also choose to ACCEPT risk if the potential consequences are known and pose no significant threat – installing landscaping that requires a lot of maintenance but increases curb appeal may be a risk that a landlord accepts. PetScreening.com is a fabulous “tool” that has been developed by the owner of a property management company to screen pets and/or validate a service animal – by assigning the animal a FIDO score, property managers can assess and therefore REDUCE the risk of having animals in a rental property.

Knowing the potential for risk, and ultimately, the consequences is a huge factor of owning investment property. Talk to a professional property manager about other risks and how they can effect you.