How do we get the tenant to move, so we can sell?

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Question:

My wife owns a two-family home that her mother lived in, and there is a tenant on the first floor who has a month-to-month lease. My mother-in-law passed away. We want the tenant (65) to move out so we can fix up, clean, and paint the place so we can sell it. It's been four months now since we first gave her written certified notice to move out. She's in no hurry to move. Eldercare services have found two apartments for her, but she didn't like them. How can we get her to move?

Answer:

Tenants with month-to-month leases can be terminated with the proper amount of notice, as long as your reasons are not illegal -- that is, as long as your reasons for booting out the tenant are not discriminatory or retaliatory. Tenants in only a couple of states -- New Jersey and New Hampshire -- and in some rent control cities enjoy "just cause" eviction protection. This rarity means that the landlord must have a legally recognized reason for terminating the tenancy. But even in these states or cities, your reasons would probably suffice.

So you may legally be entitled to evict. But as with most things in life, it's better to work out what you need without engaging in a messy legal battle. Continue to work with Eldercare to find suitable replacement digs for the tenant.

If all else fails, consider seeing an attorney, who might be able to impress upon your tenant that while you are not personally mean, you do mean business.

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