As a landlord, you’ll probably have to deal with the eviction process someday. It’s never fun, for the tenant or you. However, there are ways to prepare, so you are able to make things move as easily as possible. Here’s some do’s and don’ts to help you better 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.
- First, you’ll have to end the tenancy. You’ll have to let them know, in writing, that they are to vacate the house. All pertinent information should be included such as the date, timeframe, and reason. It needs to be signed, notarized and sent certified mail. This will be considered as their formal notice.
- Be sure to leave a detailed paper trail. Make note of all dates and times of any correspondence you have with the tenant.
- Obtain a court order before removing possessions or changing locks.
- Make certain to abide by all laws and timetables within your state. Each state has different regulations you have to follow. Follow all the rules for your area. Record the date of all events and get everything in writing.
- Have the sheriff or marshall remove the tenant should they still remain in the house after you‘ve won the case. Taking things into your own hands only contributes to trouble.
- Physically remove the tenant or any of their possessions without obtaining a court order. You will have to go through the legal process to get the tenant physically removed.
- Change any of the locks. This may come back to bite you. The tenant could use this against you in court, ultimately costing you the case as well as thousands of dollars.
- You are legally not permitted to turn off any of the utilities in someone else’s name, even if it’s your property. As with the aforementioned, you must always follow the legal process.
- Do not ever take matters into your own hands. Making the tenant uncomfortable in the home by threatening or harassing them in any way may be a huge detriment to your case.
- In most cases, you’re not able to withhold the deposit in lieu of back rent. Return the money that’s owed, minus damages and work out the rest in a court of law.
- If a tenant leaves, be careful about throwing away items that were left behind. The majority of states have rules regarding notification and storage. They have to be notified concerning the belongings and what you intend to do with them after a specific date.
Typical Process & Timeframe:
Process With Cause: This is just like it sounds. The landlord has to have a good reason for the eviction. Providing the tenant with a “pay rent or quit”, a “cure or quit” or finally an “unconditional quit” notice is the first step. Essentially, these notices state the following: pay rent, fix the problem immediately, please move.
Process Without Cause: This will often require a 30 or 60-day notice to the tenant. You might want to move in the property yourself or another similar situation.
After going to court and winning your lawsuit, you may still be stuck with a tenant who won’t leave. At this point, you’ll need to contact the state marshall to have the tenant physically removed.
Please note: This article is for informational purposes only. Always check the local laws with which you are to determine your best course of action! Eviction rules vary from state to state. Be sure that you follow the rules of your property’s jurisdiction.