What ate the alternatives to eviction regarding a non-paying tenant?

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What ate the alternatives to eviction regarding a non-paying tenant?

I have a commercial building (restaurant) which I currently lease out. The tenant has been there for about a year and has always had trouble paying the rent. Now he is about 6 months behind. I would prefer NOT to evict him because of this economy, the location of the building and the fact that I live out of state, it is unlikely that I would be able to find another tenant and do not think it would be wise to leave the building unattended. Some businesses that have closed in that area have been vandalized. Any ideas on how to get him to pay the rent?

Asked on January 15, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

1) You can sue for the rent without evicting him: eviction is one remedy in a landlord's toolbox, but it's not a required one. Since the lease is a contract, you can sue to enforce it--i.e. for missed payments--without evicting.

2) Renogotiate the lease--if the tenant can't pay the current rent but wants to avoid litigation and possibly eviction (he doesn't have to know that you don't want to evict him), consider offering to reduce his rent (you can do this voluntarily; you'd draft a new lease or an addenda to the current one) in exchange for him paying, say, 50% of the bank rent. You get some of the money owed you and keep the tenant; he gets to get out of some of the arrears and a rent he can afford. The deal can be structured so that if he defaults on the new rent in the next, say, year, he will then owe you the remaining back rent as well, and also owe you the difference between the lower rent and the original rent (so you can sue him for a higher amount). You'd structure it this way as an incentive for him to not default. Just make sure that gets into the written terms; an attorney can help you.


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