At Progressive Property Management, we’ve been trying to help landlords and investors wrap their heads around the eviction process and the things required to effectively remove a tenant from your property when that tenant has not been paying rent or following the terms of the lease.
There is a huge cost to investors to evict a tenant. You’re losing money on the rent that isn’t being paid, and you’re also required to pay legal fees and court costs. There’s also the loss of a lot of time. This does not happen overnight, and it will be months before you can get your property back, fix it up, and re-rent it to new tenants.
Another cost that many people don’t consider is the emotional cost of evicting a tenant. Evictions are emotional, even if you’re a professional who treats your rental property like a business. When your tenants stop paying rent, it’s easy to feel like you’re being taken advantage of. You may be consumed with worries, fears, and anxiety.
Working with a professional Long Beach property management company can help you have a less-stressful experience when it comes to eviction. You’ll also have less of a risk that you’ll ever need to evict a tenant because of your property manager’s experience in screening tenants and communicating with residents.
Sometimes, your property manager will recommend other methods of removing a tenant. While your instinct may be to fight until the bitter end because you know you’re right and you want your tenant to be held accountable, there are situations where it’s better to move on as quickly as possible.
Let’s talk about when you should fight and when you should walk away.
Reasons to Fight: Non-responsive Tenants
When you have tenants who refuse to respond to you or communicate in any way, the only option you have is to pursue an eviction.
As soon as your tenant is late paying rent, get in touch with that resident. There’s a huge opportunity to work something out. Maybe you can get a payment arrangement in place if your resident is struggling financially. Perhaps you can accept a partial payment now with a written agreement that your tenant will catch up by a certain day. It’s possible, even, that your tenant simply forgot the due date or made a simple error in calculating when the payment needed to be made.
Tenants who are willing to work with you make the process a lot easier. Tenants who avoid you are going to be the tenants who drag this out until the last dollar is spent and the last day in the eviction timeline has been reached.
If you cannot get your tenants to cooperate or even acknowledge that their rent is missing, you will almost certainly have to go the distance in an eviction. You’ll need to take specific steps, which include:
- Posting a Three Day Notice to Pay or Quit
- Filing an official eviction lawsuit in court
- Waiting for the tenant’s response to the eviction
- Showing up for your court date
- Attempting mediation with your tenant
- Waiting for the judge to order the tenants out by a certain day, awarding you possession of your property
With a tenant who refuses to work with you, expect a fight through every step of the process. We strongly recommend you hire a professional eviction attorney who understands the law, the process, and has many relationships in and out of the court system. This will help you avoid expensive mistakes that will only bring you risk and liability.
If you have to fight, make sure a good attorney is fighting for you.
Reasons to Let Go: Work Something Out with Your Tenant
One reason not to fight through the courts for an eviction is that you have a reasonable and contrite tenant who is going through some terrible personal experience and is not being evicted because he or she is a bad person, but because there’s a divorce or job loss or health issue that’s wreaking havoc on their lives.
With these tenants, you can often avoid the court process altogether. You’ll get your property back faster and in better condition and you’ll spend less money on damages, vacancy, loss of rent, and court costs.
Your first step should be to see if there is anything that can be done to avoid losing the tenant. If you and your tenant can come up with a payment plan or an arrangement that will prevent the tenant from having to move out, great.
But, if this is a situation where it seems impossible that the tenant will ever be able to catch up with the late rent or be relied upon to make consistent future payments, you should discuss how to cancel the lease agreement with as little pain as possible for both parties.
There are a few ways you can do this. In the most common scenario, you and your tenants agree to the tenant moving out as soon as possible. If you can decide on a date that is still within the month for which rent hasn’t been paid, that’s even better. It means you can get the property cleaned and prepared for a new tenant.
This is a good deal for your tenants as well. Having an eviction on a credit report is extremely detrimental to a consumer’s credit score. It also makes it virtually impossible to rent another home again in the foreseeable future.
When you decide that your tenants will move out voluntarily instead of going through the eviction process, there are a few protections you want to put in place. Make sure:
- The tenants leave as soon as they possibly can. Ask for a date and make sure both parties are willing to stick to it.
- Require that the home be in excellent condition. You want your tenants to leave it in the same condition that they received it. There should be no damage and minimal wear and tear.
- Ask your tenants to make the property available for showings. If your tenants can cooperate with showings while they’re preparing to move out, you can limit your vacancy time and begin marketing the home for rent immediately.
- Discuss how the security deposit will be returned. You are permitted to use the security deposit for unpaid rent and late fees as well as cleaning charges and any utilities that may not be paid before the tenant vacates. You want your tenant to know this so there are no surprises.
Reasons to Let Go: Cash for Keys
Sometimes, a financial incentive will help you get rid of a tenant who isn’t paying rent. If your tenant is not as easy to work with as the tenants who will agree on a departure date, you might want to provide a financial incentive. This might go against common sense since you’re already trying to collect money that your tenant owes you. But, if you offer them $500 or any amount you’re comfortable with to turn over the keys and move out of the home as soon as possible, you’ll save yourself a lot more time and money by avoiding the eviction. The same requirements should be in place; the home must be in good condition and the tenants must be willing to let you show the property.
These are some things to think about when you’re deciding whether you want to fight through an eviction or avoid the courthouse and get your property back.
If you have any questions, please contact us at Progressive Property Management.