disclaimer: Any real estate stories I share here are based on real experiences over the past couple of decades, however, I protect the privacy of my clients by changing names and places. So, if I’ve sold you a house before and something sounds vaguely familiar…it probably is…Our little secret. Speaking of secrets, have you read some more of them in Secrets of Spiritual Guru? All those real estate stories are true too!


Tenants can be tricky in real estate, especially if they decide to stop paying rent. But alas, we are in the land of California where tenants tend to have more rights than I do empty wine bottle. Don’t get me wrong or send me hate mail if you are tenant whose landlord did you wrong…I know those kinds are out there too, but that’s not the point, and since I’m telling the story, I get to tell it my way. Basically speaking, if someone stops paying rent it takes an act of Congress to get them moved.

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but it tends to take more than a “could you please vacate the premises” love letter. I had one seller who was being taken to the cleaners in very serious way. I’m talking about tenants who hadn’t paid in a YEAR! Can you even imagine that? To top it off, they were SUBLETTING part of the house and earning an INCOME from it. Holy heck, I can’t even fathom the frustration, but since that’s part of my job, I had to.

Anyway, my seller had enough one day and did something that, um, he probably shouldn’t have. He let himself in the living room of said house and spray painted  a message on the living room wall. While this is a PG-rated blog, I’ll not be able to share exactly what his note to the tardy tenants said, but it was clearly from his heart. Here’s the clincher. Because of this “crime of passion” (which was completely warranted if you think about it), those tenants were able to get a restraining order against my seller. So yeah, the guy who owned the home that wasn’t being paid rent on it couldn’t go within 500 feet of it.

Crazy California, right?

While I’m not here to give legal advice, I’ve taught real estate law for long enough to tell you, if you’re going to be a landlord in our sunny state, you better have patience and a property manager. While a property manager may not guarantee you’ll never have trouble with tenants, finding the right applicants is kind of their job. Over the years I’ve had my investor clients think they wanted to manage their own properties, but again, unless you have the experience AND the patience, you might be stepping into a hot bed of hot-headed heartache.

If you’re reading this post and it’s too late (AKA you already are dealing with deadbeat tenants) here are some ideas to help you save your sanity:

–Offer cash for keys. This works particularly well for “squatters” (those who camp out in your vacant house and are now having cable installed but you’ve never had a rental agreement with them). People like money and respond well to it, even if it’s them that owes you, isn’t it worth it to get them out of your hair and your house for good?

–Sing really bad karaoke outside their door. Now just to be clear, you mustn’t be on the property that you own that they won’t pay rent for. The louder and more off key, the better. While someone may call the authorities on you, you can tell the nice officers you were merely trying to come up with a creative way to communicate with your terrible tenants.

–Call the Landlord Tenant Hotline. A lot of people think this is just to protect tenants–and again, sometimes tenants are the victims– but I’ve used this resource over the years to help my seller/landlords out. Every case is different, and the laws are due to interpretation, but if you aren’t a lawyer, seek advice.

At the end of the day, follow proper protocol to kick people out. Go through the annoying 3-day to pay rent or quit, and all the writs and bits required for you to properly prevail. If you follow the rules, it will usually end up in your favor if you’re in the right. That’s not to say you won’t be a little worn from the wear, but now we can sell your house and live happily ever after.

Just don’t spray paint your tenant’s walls, please.


If you’re in the Sacramento Region and may be interested in buying or selling a home, order your FREE copy of the book that can make the process faster and easier: www.ItsYourMoveSac.com. If you’re not in Sac., you can get it on amazon (sorry, free books get expensive).

And if you’re ready to work with an agent who’s savvy, skilled, and serves wine after closing…CALL ME. If you don’t like wine, don’t worry…I make a mean ice tea too 🙂