As a property manager, you have many things to juggle, especially when you have multiple tenants. You have to balance staying organized, screening new tenants, collecting rent, and caring for properties. Adding evictions to the list of things you need can inhibit growth for your business if performed incorrectly.
The process of evicting a tenant can be very demanding. It’s imperative that it is done properly and documented thoroughly. Here, we will highlight the various laws you should be aware of, the many reasons evictions are necessary, and how to go about the whole process.
Understand the laws regarding how to evict a tenant.
So this is a little tricky only because it all depends on what state you reside in. The laws surrounding tenant evictions can vary even from city to city or between counties.
Take the initiative to learn, not just the state’s laws, but also what the laws are on a federal level. Being extremely well-educated in property management law will always be your best bet; it can especially be useful when dealing with tenant evictions.
Then, we recommend going the extra mile and reading up on both property owners’ and tenants’ rights. As much as you want to protect yourself and your property, you don’t want to start a non-viable eviction proceeding and waste everyone’s time.
For example, in new york, managers begin the eviction starting in court. They then have to win the case and pay any associated legal fees; only then can they have law enforcement escort the tenant off of the property.
Whereas, in California, with several instances such as unreasonable damage to the rental property or unlawful use of the space, the manager simply has to provide 3-day written notice of the tenancy termination. The reason for the eviction will dictate the type of notice needed.
Then, there is Florida, where a property manager can issue a 15-day eviction notice without cause or court order in the case of a month-to-month lease agreement. It’s also up to the manager to have law enforcement remove the tenant from the property.
Research the reasons for evictions.
We know that you don’t want to evict any tenant. The eviction process takes time and money to turn the property over, to screen new potential tenants, to run background checks, the whole nine yards. All the while, the house sits empty, not generating you any revenue.
However, there are some instances where there is just no other solution, and you have to act in the best interest of your property.
1. Property damage.
The number one reason tenants will be evicted is property damage. Here, it’s essential to do a thorough inspection of any damage. There is a difference between general wear and tear and tenants tearing down walls.
Evictions based on property damage need updated documentation, and it is critical to have evidence of the move-in walk-through, showing the space in good condition initially. Once you have sufficient proof that the tenant is damaging your property, you can start the eviction process.
2. Unapproved subletting.
You wouldn’t believe it, but some people nowadays try to utilize their rental space as an airbnb for profit. Crazy right? Well, luckily, you probably had it outlined in the lease agreement that rental arbitrage is unacceptable.
Not knowing who is resides in the home at any given time can create a lot of problems. If your official tenant is renting out a room for additional income, you have no way to screen those additional people living in the space. That can lead to some serious headaches for your rental property.
3. Nonpayment of rent.
This is a clear-cut reason for eviction. Again, it’s important to understand the laws in your city, county, and state. The duration of time between lack of payment and when you process an eviction notice can vary greatly.
For instance, in California, as soon as the tenant has missed a payment, the property manager can start the eviction process and issue a 3-day notice to pay or quit. If the tenant doesn’t pay rent, you can get them evicted from your property.
4. Refusal to vacate at the end of lease.
These situations can be extremely frustrating for property managers. To be as efficient as possible, you’ve most likely listed the space and have cleaning and general maintenance scheduled between the old tenants and the new tenants. You expect to have your property vacant at the end of the agreed-upon lease period, but it looks as though they have failed to do so.
Thankfully, filing for an eviction in these cases is fairly straightforward. As long as you have a signed lease agreement that clearly outlines residency dates, you should be covered. You should be able to start the eviction process, regardless of the state.
5. Disrupting the neighbors.
Regardless if you own the adjacent properties or not, it is up to you to keep the peace and ensure your tenant is not disturbing anyone else. Unfortunately, some tenants don’t respect quiet hours and actively harass the people around them.
Sometimes, after a stern warning, a tenant will shape up. Though, generally, if they are the kind of people who are causing such a huge uproar in the first place, you might need to take more drastic action and start the eviction process.
When dealing with these problematic tenants, it’s critical to document everything! If you have had multiple reports from neighbors or the police, put that in their rental file and keep notes. When the time comes to remove the tenant, you will need the documentation.
How to evict a tenant.
It can be a lengthy eviction process, yes. However, there are only six steps from start to finish. Some of them you should already have on lockdown, making it five steps.
1. Learn the eviction state laws
This was already mentioned, but it bears repeating. As a property manager, this information should be in your tool kit well before you’re even considering an eviction.
2. Confirm you have a good legal reason for evicting a tenant.
You must be aware of the laws and litigation process for each instance of a warranted eviction. Do you have the right to evict this tenant?
Previously mentioned were some of the most common reasons for evictions, but there are many other scenarios. Make sure that you confirm you have a valid and verifiable justification for proceeding with an eviction.
3. Send an eviction notice to the tenant.
This part can be challenging. Remember, the state laws and local laws will dictate the type of notice you send out, how it is delivered, and the specific time frame for the tenant to vacate.
Before you draft anything that may be wrong and forces you to start from scratch, make sure that the notice is appropriate for the situation.
4. File for eviction.
After delivering the notice and waiting for the designated amount of time, if the tenant does not vacate the property, you will need to proceed to do an eviction lawsuit.
Nobody wants this, you or the tenant. At this point, it might be worth sending over another sternly-worded notice of eviction and a warning of your intention to take the issue to an eviction lawsuit.
5. Go to eviction court.
Once you get to this point, make sure that all of your t’s are crossed, and i’s are dotted. If you have any doubts, go through all of your information again and review the lease. It’s your responsibility to know precisely what you’re presenting and have all of the relevant information organized and ready to go.
Bring all that diligently-recorded documentation with you. If you have kept good records and have a legitimate legal reason to issue the eviction notice, the courts should be on your side.
6. Evict the tenant.
When a judge rules in your favor, you are now in the clear to move forward with actively evicting the tenant. But make sure to check those local eviction laws; there are specific ways to go about it, generally involving a local branch of law enforcement.
According to each state, proper eviction should be strictly followed as it is illegal to “self-evict” more often than not. For example, if you’re in Colorado, the laws clearly state that the property owner cannot take action to change the locks, remove tenant belongings or discontinue utilities. So just be aware that there are legal consequences if you do those things.
On the bright side.
Thankfully, there are some super handy tools to help you out along the way. Take charge of challenging communications with tenants by using Podium messaging. Podium can help alleviate some of the stress when handling an eviction by providing a platform to seamlessly interact with your tenants.
Podium utilizes every common mode of digital communication: email, text, social media, you name it! It consolidates all of your incoming communication onto a single dashboard, so you check all of your messages at once. Plus, it can send outgoing communication through all of those platforms.
Best part? Using Podium, you’ll have all of the communications from and to your tenants automatically organized and documented if you ever find yourself in legal need.
If you face the decision to evict a tenant, Podium can be a vital tool to send a secondary warning of eviction and intent to proceed to court. They might ignore a letter, but they aren’t going to discard their smartphone and messaging services. Plus, you can prove to the court that they received a warning prior to eviction with Podium as part of your property management business plan.
No one ever wants things like this to go to court. But why not have all of your bases covered just in case?