What To Do If You Are Staring At An Eviction
If you own a rental property long enough eventually you will be forced to deal with an eviction. In a perfect world you can reach an amicable resolution and quickly move on. A more likely scenario is that the eviction will linger for months impacting every aspect of your business. Often times the actions you take in the initial weeks of your tenant being late has a tremendous impact on the rest of the process. No landlord wants to deal with an eviction but sometimes it is out of your control. Here are six things you must do as soon as you know you will be staring at an eviction.
- Don’t Take Matters Into Your Own Hands. Dealing with a tenant who doesn’t pay their rent isn’t fun. It may even feel like a personal insult. As angry as you may be the worst thing you can do is take matters into your own hands. If you are short tempered you need to fight the urge to drive to the house and physically demand rent payment. In almost all cases the tenant isn’t paying their rent because they don’t like you. If they could pay they probably would. There is typically an issue that is causing them a short term financing difficulty. Confronting your tenant and demanding payment will always do much more harm than good.
- Notify The Tenant ASAP. Instead of flying off the handle you should try to contact your tenant as soon as they are late. What you will find is that a few days late leads to a week and a week can quickly lead to two. You need to know as quickly as you can what you are dealing with. Once you hit fifteen days late you can begin the eviction process. If you haven’t heard from your tenant by this point it is a good indicator that something may be up. By law you need to let them know that you are going to file for an eviction if you don’t hear from them by a certain date. Hopefully this spurs payment action but if not you have no choice but to carry on with the eviction.
- Contact An Attorney. Once you notify your tenant that you will be filing an eviction you should seek the council of an attorney. There are a handful of court related items that you will use an attorney for. There are many landlords who feel that they are already losing rental income so they cannot afford to pay an attorney. It is this shortsighted thinking that can get you in trouble. For a few hundred dollar attorney fee you stand to lose or gain thousands of dollars in lost rent. One errant filing or oversight on your end could cause the process to be delayed and put at the bottom of the pile. Even if you think you know what you are doing and how the process works an attorney will handle it more efficiently than you can.
- State Specific Laws. Even though you are going to lean on your attorney throughout the process you should still know the laws for your specific state. Something that may work for a fellow investor in Connecticut may not work for someone in California. It is up to you, the owner, to verse yourself on the tenant eviction laws in your state. These laws are subject to change at any time so never assume something that worked a few years ago is still applicable today. It may be hard to believe but there are some tenants that take advantage of uneducated tenants who don’t fully understand state eviction laws.
- Stay In The Loop. It is not enough to hire an attorney and wait for the end of the process. You need to stay engaged every step of the way. You should make it a point to attend any court sessions and be prepared to offer any necessary documents. All the time you can reach out to your tenants and see if there is a resolution to be met. As much as you want every cent that is owed to you there are times when a compromise is best. If you can get your tenant out without this dragging on for months you can get a new tenant in your property much quicker. Your eviction is too important not to know what is going on at all times.
- Prepare For New Tenant. As you are working towards an eviction or an amicable resolution you need to keep an eye out for new tenants. Your goal should be to have a new tenant in place within a week of getting the old one out. This may seem ambitious but with good property pictures and videos this isn’t as hard as it seems. The only problem you will have is knowing when the property will be ready. It is important to find tenants who are flexible and don’t need a firm schedule. What you never want to do is have your property sitting vacant for another month after your current tenant leaves. You are losing money every day you are not generating income.
An eviction can occupy all of your time and energy if you let it. The best way to deal with it to avoid it at all cost. This is easier said than done but with the right screening you greatly increase your chances.