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Evicting Tenants: How effective are Cash For Keys offers?

HI Alex, Sean wrote a great blog post about this a couple of years ago It is my understanding that the lease would have to be signed prior to the Notice of Default and in order to be a bona fide lease agreement it would have to be an arms length transaction (no relationship between the tenant and the mortgagor) or not substantially less than fair market rent for the property. Once you arm yourself with the information found on the blog post listed above your best bet may be to negotiate a cash for keys deal. If you can resolve this through negotiation that is always the best option.

If I were making a decision whether to agree to a cash for keys offer, I have consider the following:

  1. The security afforded by state and local laws. If those don’t allow expulsion after foreclosure or provide a longer notice period, you should be offered more money, as you have a greater awareness in staying in your home.

It may be more suitable to move at the end of the school year, for instance, and if your 90 days would get you to July, you might rather not move at the end of April. Yes, it is all right to say that moving at the convenience of the proprietor is not convenient for you.

The amount of your deposit. If the cash for keys offer is less than your deposit, it means you are giving up the variation. Do you want to do that? If the lender organizes the cash for keys agreement, it will most likely state that the agreement settles all declares you have on the lender, which means that you give up your right to sue the lender for return of your security deposit.

The price of moving. Include in this protection/pet/other deposits, the cost of movers, or the truck and pizza for your friends, utility deposits, shifting your address everywhere, the time you have to impression work to deal with finding a new home etc.


Clawfoot Tub

Racks - On 2, note that you are not giving up your right to sue the former owner for your deposit if you accept cash-4-keys. Its easy to file an action in small claims court, and judges rarely take kindliy to landlords who fail to return a deposit. In some states, like CA, the tenant is also entitled to a pretty significant penalty. 1 and 3 are definitely good negotiation points, but know that there is no law that requires the landlord to pay moving costs utility deposits or any of those other items you mention in 3 if your lease and notice periods are over, so there is a limit to how much that argument will buy you.

How about a tenant with an unauthorized dog (pit bull) that is both a liability and damaging the premises? The tenant was already told to get rid of it and hasn’t. what is better, cash for keys or eviction?

Sounds like you may have grounds for eviction. I’d serve them a notice to remove the dog or quit - a variation of the pay or quit notice that typically starts the eviction process. You’ll need to do it anyway in order to evict and it may help start a conversation leading either to them simply moving out, removing the dog, or negotiating some sort of agreement (cash-4-keys). If they don’t then you can go ahead with the eviction. Personally I always do cash-4-keys and eviction concurrently. It is easy to cancel the eviction if they move per the cash-4-keys agreement, so there is no reason to delay doing it in parallel.

Thank you for your time. I am paid up on my rent. I have no intention on not paying or staying here for long. I just want to know what my legal rights are. I am recieving section 8 that helps with my rent. I thought new owners have to give 90 days when its going through escrow? And I have only been served a thirty day notice. on the notice it says housing tenants get 90 days. They ignored that and checked off 30 day notice. If I am allowed 90 days then 1,500. is not enough. I will need to get a motel for us and storage until I find proper housing to pass section 8 inspection. Its been 10 days from notice. They can not evict me until my 90 days are up, right? And I still feel like I have not properly been served? I have no problem giving cash for keys but, I need more cash to move out in 10 days. I need help from moving co. I cant do it alone… Thanks again. So my big question is. where do I stand legally? I have great rental reports and plan on keeping it!

HI Chirs, The Protecting Tenants in Foreclosure Act which provides for the 90 day notice when a tenant is living in a property that has been foreclosed. In your case this is not a foreclosure and the landlord is not obligated to give you a 90 day notice. They are only required to give you the appropriate notice as outlined in your lease agreement. This is typically only 30 or 60 days. They just have to give you written notice and they do not need to physically serve you. Sending it in the mail would be sufficient. It sounds like they have given you the 30 days notice and because they really want the house quickly they are trying to incentive you with cash in exchange for you moving early. If 10 days if not reasonable you could certainly negotiate with them.

I am buying a foreclosed home from a bank through auction. At the close of escrow - next week - I will get a quit claim deed from the bank/seller. The property is still occupied by “someone” (presumably previous owner or a relative). What is the best action plan for me? Should I try to arrange C4K myself? Or post 3 day notice first? Or hire an attorney to handle the eviction? I have bought several REO properties before but this is the first time which will involve eviction and I am nervous (to say the least)!

You should try to negotiate cash for keys (C4K) AND post the appropriate notice (if they’re a renter a 3 day won’t work - try to find out when you go to negotiate C4K). As for whether to do itself or use a professional, I’d recommend using a professional if this is your first time. You can usually find an eviction service that works with an attorney (cheaper than using attorney for everything).

Thanks Sean. If nobody opens the door when I go there - what are my choices? I will of course put the notice but in whose name? And for filing UD - how do I know how many adults live there? And their names? I can probably find out the previous owner’s name - should I just assume that is the one who is living there?

Eviction service can walk you though it. If they can’t find the folks, they will get an order to post from the court. More info on the unlawful detainer process here:, though note it appears to be out of date as the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act requires tenants get a 90 day notice.

Do you have to give your ss# and sign a W-9 if you accept Cash for Keys? Not sure if you’ve answered this question.

Thank you for your time. What are the magic words to say to the realtor to get the bank to offer cash for keys? Please your help is invaluable at this point.

Maryl - Very rare that occupants are not offered cash for keys. One exception might be in states where the eviction process is very easy, thus not giving the bank any incentive to do it. Research the eviction process in your state, and then nicely let the agent know that you are aware of your rights, and how long you have to stay, and that if they want you out earlier you are willing to consider an offer. Also, if you are a renter (not the owner), know that you’ll have additional rights under the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act.

The only problem with that is that the tenant can get rid of the dog temporarily, and claim that he has gotten rid of it for good. I already told him at the lease renewal three months ago that if he kept the pit bull, I would end the lease. I think its better to make the eviction based upon the tenant creating “waste.” (as you know property damage), which I have already documented by taking pictures. That way he can’t use the issue of supposedly getting rid of the dog as an excuse to not get evicted. In my experience, tenants who say they have pets will almost always try to sneak them back in later in the lease. Wed Aug 8th 2012 at 12:19pm

Chris - you should consider contacting a Legal Aid society in your jurisdiction or you can call your local bar association and ask for a Lawyer Referral Service to meet with UD lawyer to advise you. Those attorneys donate their time, usually a half hour. The fee you pay is usually a small administrative fee to the bar association for administering the referral. Lastly, the court’s website should have explanations for you about understanding the process of eviction. They will not tell you what you want to hear, but they should be able to understand what basis the Notice is claiming and whether is adequate. Arm yourself with knowledge, but make a plan because you have your children to think of if you need to relocate quickly. Mon Sep 24th 2012 at 8:45pm