As a landlord, you will inevitably have to deal with the eviction process. It’s never fun, for you or the tenant. But there are ways to prepare, so you can make things go as smoothly as possible. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you navigate the process.
What You Should Do:
- Try to reason with your tenants and resolve the issues before going to court. Eviction should be your last resort, when you have someone living in your house, without paying any rent owed.
- You will need to first end the tenancy. You will have to let them know, in writing, that they are to vacate the property. All pertinent information should be included including the date, reason, and timeframe. It should be signed, notarized and sent certified. This is considered their formal notice.
- Make sure you leave a detailed paper trail. Write down all the dates and times of any correspondence between you and the tenant.
- Get a court order before removing possessions or changing locks.
- Make sure to abide by all laws and timetables within your state. Each state has different regulations you must follow. Follow all the rules for your area. Get everything in writing, and record the date of all events.
- Have the sheriff or marshall remove the tenant if they still remain after you have won the case. Taking matters into your own hands only leads to trouble.
- Physically remove the tenant or their possessions without a court order. You will need to go through the legal procedures to have the tenant physically removed.
- Change the locks. This can come back to bite you. The tenant can use this against you in court, ultimately costing you the case as well as several thousand dollars.
- You are legally not allowed to turn off the utilities in someone else’s name, even if it is your own property. As with the above, you must always follow the legal procedure.
- Don’t ever take matters into your own hands. Threatening the tenant, making them uncomfortable in the home and harassing them in any way can be a huge detriment to your case.
- In most cases, you are not able to keep the deposit in lieu of back rent. Return the deposit that is owed, minus damages and work the rest out in a court of law.
- If a tenant leaves, be careful about throwing away items left behind. Most states have rules regarding notice and storage. They must be notified about the belongings and what you intend to do with them after a certain date.
Typical Process & Timeframe:
Process With Cause: This is exactly as it sounds. The landlord has a good reason for the eviction. The first step is to provide the tenant with either a “pay rent or quit” notice, a ‘cure or quit” notice or finally an “unconditional quit” notice. Basically, these state: pay rent, fix the problem now, please move.
Process Without Cause: This will usually require a 30 or 60-day notice to the tenant. You could want to move into the property yourself or another similar situation.
After going to court and winning your suit, you might still be stuck with a tenant who refuses to go. At this point, you will need to call the state marshall to have them physically removed.
Please note: This blog is for informational purposes only. Always check the local laws where you are to determine your best course of action! Eviction rules vary from state to state. Make sure to follow the rules of your property jurisdiction.