All About the "E Word" - Evictions
Renters Warehouse Blog
All About the "E Word" - Evictions
For most landlords, one of the most difficult tasks is undoubtedly the dreaded e-word; evictions.
The mention of an eviction is enough to fill even the most resilient landlord's heart with dread. No one wants to be painted as a villain, and it's easy to feel like the bad guy when it comes to removing a tenant from their home.
But the truth is that evictions, while unpleasant, are sometimes a necessity. If a tenant is falling behind on rent, or causing damage to your property, you simply can't stand by and watch the money go down the drain. Unpaid rent, if let go for too long can quickly add up to a sum that's all but impossible for tenants to pay back. Damage, if left unchecked, can quickly tally into the thousands of dollars, taking a sizable chunk out of your profits for the year or even leaving you in the red.
If you're having troubles with a tenant who's in violation of the lease or has fallen behind in the rent, it's important to begin the eviction process as swiftly as possible. To help you get started, here's a quick overview of everything you need to know about the "e-word" -from when to begin an eviction, to how you should go about it in a way that's in compliance with the law.
When Should You Evict a Tenant?
Do you have troublesome tenants? Are you wondering whether you should evict them?
Here's a look at a few sure signs that it may be time to evict:
- The rent hasn't been paid in months, or the tenant always pays rent late despite repeated warnings and notices.
- Your tenant brought home a new puppy, despite the strict 'no pets' policy and refuses to rehome Rover.
- The living room has been turned into a storefront for the tenant's new business venture, even though the home is in a residential zone.
- The "so-called" happily married tenants have been airing their dirty laundry for the whole neighborhood at 2 a.m. every night for the last two months.
- The college kids who rent your home to have neglected to fix the holes in the windows, doors, and walls from the last three epic frat parties...and they have another "off the hook" kegger planned for next Friday.
If any of these scenarios sound familiar, then an eviction could be in your future.
On a more serious note, in most cases, a landlord is within their rights to evict a tenant for the following reasons:
- Late or nonpayment of rent
- Causing damage to the property
- Illegal or drug-related activity
Anything that falls under those categories is usually enough to warrant an eviction.
But before you think about changing the locks and throwing their stuff out on the lawn, take note: laws will vary from state to state on how evictions should be handled, so be sure to do your research!
You can always try negotiating with your tenant first before evicting them, but be prepared to move forward with the eviction process if they're unwilling to cooperate.
The Eviction Process
Generally speaking, the first step in the eviction process involves sending the tenant a notice to quit, which is a written statement informing the tenant that they're about to be evicted, the reason why, and a deadline for them to resolve the situation.
Be sure to send this notice via certified mail so that you have record of when it was sent and received. If the tenant hasn't corrected the situation by the time the deadline arrives, then the eviction request can be filed with the courts.
At this point, as landlord, you'll need to prepare for a court date. Gather up all your records and documentation, such as the eviction notice, lease agreement, payment records, pictures (if the property is damaged), and details of the communication between you and the tenant. The tenant may try to fight you in court; after all, this is where they live and call home. Be prepared, as these battles can sometimes get ugly.
If the court sides with you, they'll give the tenant a move out date. Once the tenant has vacated the premises, whether of their own accord or with assistance from your local Sheriff, you can then begin the process of trying to collect back rent. You can try to sue in small claims court, or use the judgment and court order documents to have your tenant's wages garnished. You can also attempt to garnish their tax refund or use a private debt collector to get the money. Keep in mind, though, that while you can pursue many options to collect past rent, it's no guarantee that you'll ever see those funds.
Note: The eviction process is one that will vary considerably from state to state, so be sure to check your state laws to see what your obligations and requirements are as a landlord.
What NOT to Do During the Eviction Process
While an eviction might seem straightforward, it's usually anything but.
The process itself can take anywhere from five weeks to three months, or even longer! Until the courts hand down a judgment, a landlord does NOT have the right to change the locks, shut off utilities, or forcibly remove a tenant or their stuff from the property.
Doing so before the court rules in your favor could actually hurt your case and cause the court to rule in favor of the tenant. So even if the tenant is tearing your property to shreds, refrain from taking care of it yourself. Instead, document everything and be patient.
Hiring a Property Management Firm
Evictions are never pleasant. There's a lot to watch out for and plenty of steps that need to be taken in order to ensure that you carry out an eviction in a way that's in compliance with the law.
If the idea of an eviction is enough to put you off the idea of owning rental property altogether, there's another option that you should know about: hiring a property manager. By enlisting the services of a qualified property management firm, you'll be outsource the hassle of evictions, allowing you to focus on overseeing your investments or growing your property portfolio, rather than having to obtain court orders and mail out certified letters.
You may think that hiring a property manager is expensive or complicated, but with Renters Warehouse, it doesn't have to be. We employ a thorough and careful tenant screening process, which drastically increases the chance of finding a qualified tenant for your property. We also take care of maintenance, paperwork, rent collection, and, should an eviction become necessary, we'll handle the process of removing them and finding new ones. All you have to do is sit back and watch your investments grow -it's that simple.
Life is too short to waste your energy on managing tenant issues by yourself! If the thought of dealing with evictions fills you with dread, visit Renters Warehouse today and see how you can completely outsource the hassle of this dreaded task.