Although being a landlord comes with its financial benefits, that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. From time to time you may have to deal with tenants who are unable or refuse to pay their rent, which can threaten your business if you don’t take the proper steps to address the problem. Here is a look at how you can evict a tenant quickly and mitigate any potential damage to your property or investment business.
How to Evict a Tenant Quickly
Step 1: Contact the Tenant Directly and Try to Work Something Out
The simplest way to find a solution before things get ugly is to reach out to your tenant directly and try to find a solution. Everyone goes through hard times financially and if they’ve otherwise been a good tenant, you may choose to offer to reduce or defer rent payments until they are back on their feet. But, don’t get carried away and let them take advantage of the situation.
You have to let them know that their financial obligations must be met at some point, even if you’re willing to be flexible with the terms (if you can afford to be). But working something out will often be cheaper than taking them to court. So if they’re willing to negotiate, you may want to look for a solution that works for everyone.
Step 2: Determine Grounds for Eviction and Issue a Formal Notice
If your tenant is late on rent and refuses to handle the situation amicably, the next step is to begin formal eviction proceedings. But before doing so, you must review your state’s laws and determine a solid ground for eviction to bring to the court. Eviction laws vary from state to state and it’s important to familiarize yourself with the proper customs and procedures before you begin the process, so you don’t make a mistake or waste your own time.
Before a court will hear your case, you must determine the grounds for eviction. This is typically a direct violation of the lease agreement that you both signed. Grounds for eviction typically include refusal to pay rent, consistent late payment of rent, complaints from other tenants, damage to the property, using the property to engage in illegal activity, etc.
Once you have clear evidence to indicate that the terms of the lease have been broken, you have grounds to begin a formal eviction proceeding. You must start by issuing a formal eviction notice to your tenant. This notice should include a clear deadline that gives the tenant time to either move-out or fix the situation before legal action will be taken.
Step 3: Schedule and Eviction Hearing and Let the Court Decide on a Course of Action
If the tenant still has not moved out or fix the situation before the deadline set in the eviction notice, you can schedule a hearing through your local housing court to formally evict them.
As long as you can prove that the tenant clearly violated the terms of the lease and you gave them proper notice before beginning the eviction proceedings, the court will likely rule in your favor.
What Do I Do if a Tenant Refuses to Move Out?
If your tenant refuses to move out, even though they are no longer able to make payments on time, you must either work something out between yourselves or go through the formal eviction proceedings. It is illegal to throw a tenant out in the street without going through the court system, so you have to treat the situation delicately or face personal repercussions and damage your reputation as a landlord. That’s why is always best to solve things amicably, if at all possible.
How Do I Get Rid of a Tenant Without Going to Court?
The best way to get a tenant to leave without going to court is to convince them to leave of their own volition. To do so effectively, let them know the consequences if the case has to be brought before a court and provide incentives to make them leave peacefully. Remind them that if they are forcibly evicted it may make it harder for them to rent in the future and could potentially damage their credit. Plus, they may have to pay additional legal fees if they hire someone to defend them in court.
You may also agree to forgive any back rent or even offer them cash in exchange for the tenant agreeing to leave peacefully. It may be worth it to avoid paying legal fees yourself and dealing with the stresses of the eviction process.
How Long Does It Take to Evict a Tenant?
The exact length of the eviction process varies depending on the state and the circumstances of the case but can range anywhere from a few weeks to several months. If you’re an experienced landlord with a working knowledge of the eviction process, you can likely push the case through in about 4 to 6 weeks. But if the case is more complex, it may take several months.
You typically have to start with a 30- or 60-day eviction notice, informing the tenant how much time they have to either vacate or remedy the situation. You then must schedule a court date if they refuse to comply, which will take another 2-3 weeks. Then you’ll have to go through the process of presenting your case and formally evicting the tenant, the length of which can vary depending on the amount of evidence presented and the availability of the courts.
What is the Cash for Keys Method?
There is also a method of evicting a tenant called cash for keys, where the landlord convinces a tenant to vacate the property for an agreed-upon sum of money. This is a smart method if you want to avoid going to court, but the tenant does not seem to be motivated to leave on their own. This practice is more typical in situations where the landlord wants to sell the property or bring in new tenants, but there is still an existing lease in place. It can also be used to convince problem tenants to leave amicably without any legal action being taken.
If you are going to utilize this method, it’s important to get everything in writing, so you don’t get burned. Even if you give a tenant a lump sum of cash, you still cannot forcibly evict them without the permission of the court if they refuse to leave. So, you want to make sure that they uphold their end of the bargain or risk facing even more repercussions if they do not oblige.
The Best Way to Avoid Bad Tenants Altogether
The best wat to avoid bad tenants is to properly screen everyone before signing a lease. Even if you know them personally or they were recommended by someone close to you – it’s important to do your due diligence to avoid getting stuck with a bad tenant.
Tenant Screening includes verifying a potential tenant’s credit history, employment history, past and current income, amount of savings, etc. You may even want to go a step farther and ask for references from past landlords or employers who can vouch for their character and sense of responsibility.
Ultimately, it’s impossible to entirely predict a person’s character until you have your own working relationship with them. So, if you own an investment property for long enough, you’re going to come across a few bad apples. But, the more stringently you screen your tenants and the better you familiarize yourself with the eviction processes, the less likely it will be that one disruptive tenant will threaten your entire business.