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  • Shuk Team

Landlord Use of Cash for Keys Agreements

Updated: Jan 4

A cash for keys agreement (or "C4K") is a negotiated settlement between a landlord and tenant in which the tenant agrees to vacate the rental property and return the keys in exchange for a cash payment. This type of agreement can be an effective way for a landlord to peacefully and quickly resolve an eviction or abandonment situation. However, it is not the only option available to a landlord and may not always be the best course of action.


There are several situations in which a landlord might consider using a cash for keys agreement:

  1. Eviction: If a tenant has failed to pay rent or has otherwise breached the lease, the landlord may need to evict the tenant through legal proceedings. This can be a time-consuming and costly process, especially if the tenant contests the eviction. A cash for keys agreement can allow the landlord to avoid the expense and hassle of a formal eviction by offering the tenant a financial incentive to leave voluntarily.

  2. Abandonment: If a tenant has vacated the property without notice and stopped paying rent, the landlord may be able to treat the tenancy as abandoned. In this case, a cash for keys agreement can help the landlord recoup some of the lost rent and avoid the cost of a formal eviction.

  3. Tenant relocation: In some cases, a landlord may need to temporarily or permanently relocate a tenant in order to make necessary repairs or renovations to the property. A cash for keys agreement can provide the tenant with a financial cushion as they look for a new place to live.

However, there are also situations in which a cash for keys agreement may not be the best option for a landlord:

  1. Tenant has a valid defense: If the tenant has a valid defense to the eviction or abandonment, such as the landlord failing to make necessary repairs or the eviction being discriminatory, a cash for keys agreement may not be a suitable solution.

  2. Landlord wants possession of the property: If the landlord wants to take possession of the property for their own use or to sell it, a cash for keys agreement may not be appropriate. In this case, the landlord may need to seek a formal eviction or abandonment proceeding in order to gain legal possession of the property.

  3. Tenant has damaged the property: If the tenant has damaged the property, the landlord may want to seek compensation through a court judgment rather than a cash for keys agreement.

There are several elements that a landlord should consider when using a cash for keys agreement:

  1. Legal considerations: It is important for a landlord to ensure that the cash for keys agreement is legally binding and enforceable. This may require the use of a lawyer or other legal professional to draft the agreement.

  2. Amount of payment: The amount of the cash payment should be carefully negotiated and should take into account the landlord's costs, such as lost rent and any damage to the property, as well as the tenant's financial circumstances.

  3. Timing of payment: The timing of the payment should also be carefully considered. The landlord may want to hold back a portion of the payment until the tenant has fully vacated the property and returned the keys.

  4. Documentation: It is important for the landlord to document the cash for keys agreement and any related communications with the tenant. This can help to protect the landlord's interests and provide evidence in the event of a dispute.

  5. Move out schedule: A move out schedule outlines the specific steps and deadlines that the tenant must follow in order to receive the cash payment. This may include tasks such as cleaning the property, returning keys, and providing proof of relocation.

In conclusion, a cash for keys agreement can be a useful tool for a landlord seeking to peacefully and quickly resolve an eviction or abandonment situation. However, it is important for the landlord to carefully consider the legal, financial, and practical implications of this type of agreement. By taking the time to carefully plan and negotiate the terms of the agreement, a landlord can increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.


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