When the Time Comes- Evicting a Tenant
Evicting a tenant isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. However, it doesn’t have to be so difficult.
The eviction laws are different from state to state.
It is smart to understand them while writing up the lease agreement, especially so both parties know the significance of the document.
US legal forms has good lease options that will keep you safe legally.
It is very important to understand the Landlord and Tenant Act. The Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA) provides a more detailed explanation of the legal side of the eviction process.
To date, there have been at least 21 states that have adopted the URLTA as the foundation for state specific landlord-tenant laws.
Hire a Professional to Deal with the Matter
You may want to take the matter into your own hands. Although it is definitely important to have due diligence, self-help evictions are illegal in every state. No matter the situation with the tenant ( a deadbeat, a liar, causing damage to the property, you cannot do any of the following actions without a court order:
- Remove the tenant’s stuff from the property
- Remove the tenant
- Switching the locks or locking the Tenant out
- Shut off essential utilities such as electric, gas, and water
Recognize that the courts will only be on your side if you follow these rules. Therefore, make sure you do not give a judge any reason to doubt that you are an outstanding law-abiding citizen.
Sometimes, a tenant will actually make it easy for a landlord to evict them by breaking laws, destroying property, or violating the lease agreement.
Also, do not expect the relationship to remain solid between a tenant and a landlord after an eviction. It is widely accepted that you should not rent to friends.
Typically, the following reasons will be sufficient for an eviction:
- failing to pay rent, violating the lease/ agreement
- inflicting damage to the property
- breaking ordinances, such as (noise, occupancy, or health)
- health or safety hazards
It is also important that you have proof of any claim against your tenant. “Innocent until proven guilty” still remains.
Try to Reason with your Tenants
If it doesn’t look like the law will prevail on your side, or if you just don’t want to expend the effort on an eviction case, you can always try reasoning with them.
Be Empathetic yet Stern
It might be a helpful idea to use a script to better communicate with the tenant. This will also make you be more prepared and save from an altercation.
It could illustrate to the tenant that you understand their issue of having issues covering their rent.
This will help empathize with the tenant.
However, you should be stern in relaying that you need a person in the property that is able to cover rent, and if they can’t, then they need to leave. Let them know that you respect them as a human being and that you wanted to give a chance to exit the rental on their own before you file an eviction lawsuit as the landowner.
Remind them that if you have to go through the eviction process, it will ruin their credit score, making them not able to get a mortgage, car loan, or any loan for a very long time. This is obviously not what they want.
When you win the case, remind them that you will also need to sue them for any back-due rent, in which you will eventually be able to use that judgement to garnish their wages. Let them know if you have to do that, it will involve their employer, and that will be very appealing to them.
So, say that you don’t want to do that to them.
Instead, ask how they would like to proceed? Ask if they will pay their rent and be done, or if they will vacate the property ASAP?
Deliver a Proper Notice of Eviction.
Your tenant may choose to not cooperate even after you have established the right to evict the tenant. If this occurs it is not an issue. Rather, you will need to follow the set legal procedures exactly.
Another important step is to provide adequate “notice of eviction.” This is usually a simple document or form that tells your tenant why they are being evicted and what they can do to avoid that eviction. They may be able to avoid the eviction by paying rent, cleaning up the house, etc.
Tips for Making an Eviction Notice
The eviction notice should include a deadline (date) to pay rent or move out.
It should also include the amount of the rent owed (this is including all fees).
Note that you are usually required to post this notice within a certain amount of days prior to filing the eviction paperwork with your local court.
To make it official and professional, this document should be taped to their front door, as well as sent via certified mail/return receipt requested by the united states postal service.
Make it easy for yourself- use a state-specific eviction form template.
Your tenant knows that you’ve done your due diligence and that you’re serious about the situation.
Usually, a formal eviction notice is enough to whip them into shape.
However, if the set amount of time (usually a week) goes by and nothing has changed, its time to file the eviction of the tenant with the courts.
File your Eviction with the Courts
Visit the closest courthouse to file your eviction and pay a fee. The clerk will schedule your hearing and will eventually notify the tenant on your behalf – via a summons.
You may have to show proof via receipt from certified mail that you have given the proper amount of time that your state requires for an eviction notice.
Be Ready for the Court Hearing
Gather all related information and proof of your claim.
- You will want to have Lease agreements,
- Bounced checks,
- Records of payment of any kind
- Records of the communication between you and your tenant (phone and email records)
- A copy of the written notice that you provided your tenant
- Dated proof that the tenant received the notice (A signature from the tenant, or receipt from the post office)
Since a tenant can not lie about not paying their rent (since they can’t substitute real payment records), their most likely defense will be to claim that you didn’t properly inform them of the eviction. Preparation is key.