If you own rental property long enough eventually you will be faced with an eviction. Every landlord thinks evictions will never happen on their properties, but they are more common than you may think. Your tenant can be great for eight months and then out of the blue be hit with an unexpected financial setback. This forces them to juggle funds until eventually the rent becomes too much to bear. When this happens how you act will often dictates the resolution. By pushing too hard, or not pushing enough, you may prolong the process. There is a delicate balance that must be done to get the tenant out as quickly as possible. Here are five tips to help you best deal with an eviction.
- Know Rules/Law:There is no question that dealing with an eviction stinks. As a landlord you may count on the rent to pay the mortgage and when it doesn’t come it can throw you for a financial loop. There are usually some warning signs that a tenant will be late. They may start ignoring your calls and texts and not respond as they normally do. As soon as you think you may have an issue on your hands you should research local eviction laws. This is something that every landlord should know, but probably don’t stay on top of until they need to. Every state has different laws for eviction. Some stats favor the tenants more while others are more titled toward the landlord. Whatever the rules are, know how and when you can proceed before doing anything. One small technicality can give your tenant the ability to challenges your actions in court and lengthen the process. This will essentially tie your hands and leave you without any income coming in.
- Act ASAP: By law, your tenant most likely has until the 10th to pay their rent. As much as you may want, or demand, it by the 1st there is some grace period granted. Usually around the 5th you should start calling, emailing or texting asking when you can expect payment. If they don’t respond it is a good sign they are scraping to find the funds. As we stated, here is where you need to be ready to act right on the 10th. Before you file an eviction or take drastic measures you should always have a conversation with the tenant to find out what is going on. If it is a short-term issue and you are confident will not carry over to the next month you can grant a few extra days. The reality is that evictions are not cheap. Between court fees, attorney fees and loss of rent you are quickly looking at thousands of dollars. As much as eviction shouldn’t be the first option you also can’t go weeks without any communication. At some point you should give your tenant notice of eviction and if you still don’t hear anything, serve them with papers.
- Seek Legal Counsel: If you are going to commit to an eviction it is a good idea to seek legal counsel. Handling an eviction is much like doing maintenance work on your rental property. Sure, you could probably get it done, but do you know enough to do it right? With an eviction there is too much at stake to hope you know what you are doing. Like we stated, if you done provide the court with the necessary paperwork when they ask for it they can add a few weeks, or more, to the process. You are better off biting the bullet and hiring an attorney that knows what they are doing. With an attorney they will help expedite the process and get the tenant out of the house asap. Every extra month of the eviction is a month without rent coming in. Spending money on an attorney is a difficult pill to swallow, but the best thing you can do given the circumstances.
- Exhibit Control: There is a degree of disappointment and anger when a tenant stops paying their rent. You may have done everything they asked for the property and treated them like family. However, now is not the time to take things personally. You may want to leave a nasty voicemail or show up to the property and demand payment. This only serves to be counterproductive and makes things worse. Once you hire an attorney you should let them be your mouthpiece and follow their instructions. A nasty voicemail could be held against you and may influence the judge to give the tenant more time. You can reach out to your tenant for an update, but you need to always be under control.
- Bend, But Never Break. There are times when your tenant will reach out to you after the eviction has been started. There is a realization of a court date that usually spurs action. During their conversation they may propose a payment plan or giving partial payment until their financial situation improves. While you can certainly be open to this, you need to know what you are getting into. Partial payments can simply just prolong the agony and postpone the situation for a few months. Unless there is a concrete payment plan in place, with firm dates and consequences, you should think long and hard about accepting it.
An eviction can either be a temporary bump in the road or break your business apart. How you act will determine which way it goes.