How to evict a tenant that is not paying rent and not vacating?
No matter how good as a landlord you are and how closely you put attention to the details while putting a tenant on your property. You can experience a bad tenant anytime in your business. It is not your fault. Occurring to a tenant who is not paying the rent and not vacating the property can happen with anybody. Don`t be disheartened as you have to deal with it anyway.
Your state has governed some rules for evicting a tenant. The reason because of which you are evicting the tenant should be justified. The tenant who is not paying rent and is not vacating is justified and can be easily evicted under the law. The legal procedure requires you to send an eviction notice to that tenant with a deadline. After the deadline crosses, you need to file the eviction with the court and then the civil trial begins. Also, there are some less known and effective remedies available to remove such tenant without the need of going to court for straight forward eviction.
How Do I Evict a Tenant who is not Paying and not Vacating?
Not getting rent is similar to getting robbed and here you are getting robbed by your tenant. The tenant is robbing your bank account by not paying the money he owe to you. He might be struggling financially. But that doesn`t mean you will pay that money for him. You are running a rental business and you have to feed it every month with rent payments. So, don`t let your tenant rob you any further. Know the complete process of eviction before your business runs out and die of starvation.
It is a big process in its own and is sure to give you a bumpy ride in its way. So, get yourself prepared and keep reading this article. We will help you better understand this bumpy route to eviction before you actually travel on it. We hope it will ease your journey a little bit.
#Step 1: Understanding the Eviction Laws
In order to get the eviction case in your favor, you need to understand the eviction laws in the first hand. Understanding these laws allow you to know your current situation with the tenant in a better way. You can gather the right documents and proofs required for the eviction process to make your case stronger. There is no good in being that landlord who seems disorderly and unprepared in front of the judge.
Put attention to the process carefully if you are not hiring attorney and doing the job yourself.
Prior to file an eviction with the court, the law requires you do certain things in a set way. Failing which can weaken your case and making you lose the eviction judgement. It is very important you have all the documented proofs to backup your claims in the court. The rules of eviction vary from state to state and you should first verify them before starting the eviction process. However, in general the process of eviction remains same and applicable during the process.
#Step 2: Stay on your nerves (No Self help Eviction)
Eviction is a long and a little bumpy process. As a landlord you want to avoid it at any cost. Because once the eviction process starts, it can take a long time probably five to six months. This period costs you money in hiring an attorney, court legal fees and lost rent payments. All these concerns altogether intimidate some landlords and then they decide to take matters in their hand. They choose the route of self help eviction and do possibly everything what it takes to remove the tenant.
Mind you it is illegal and your tenant can sue in such cases. You are required to stay calm and patient to change this unfavorable situation in your favor. Otherwise, you can end up in legal troubles and lose your money. It is mostly seen that the landlords who follow the course of self help eviction end up with a law suit. And, the delinquent tenant they were trying to evict is still enjoying the stay on the property. So, you should never ever try to self evict and do any of the following even if your tenant goes worse.
- Changing the locks of house
- Removing Tenant`s belongings from the house
- Taking tenant`s stuff
- Shutting down the utilities like electricity, water, heat and gas
- Harassing the Tenant physically or mentally.
You are going to do an eviction legally. You have valid reasons and you will win it surely.
#Step 3: Working out with Tenant
Do you see a harm if you can find a way to get the task done before actually going for eviction. No this is far away from self help eviction. Only crazy landlords take that way. The successful landlords exactly know the art of turning even rough situations to their favor. And working with a bad tenant may act as that secret sauce which can get your task done without actually going for eviction.
· Knowing the tenant`s state of mind
Working with the tenant requires you to first understand their state of mind. Understanding exactly why is tenant delaying or not giving the payment can help you prepare for the next step accordingly. There can be various reasons why the tenant is failing to pay. Struggling financially, sudden job loss and health issues can be among such reasons. Prepare yourself accordingly. Always remember, you can feel for their situation but you have a business to run too.
· Reasoning with Tenant:
Once you are able to understand their state of mind, you can reason them on the situation. You need to stay both considerate and rigid during the reasoning to make them realize about the situation. Your tenant is toiling hard and facing hard times. Listening to him and emphasizing with his situation can increase your chance of tenant complying with you. And maybe then, you need not to go the eviction way.
When you feel that the tenant is willing to work out with you. Ensure he understands that you want to help and eviction is something you also don’t want. Make him realize how important it is to pay rent or move out of the property. And if he fails to pay the rent or vacate the property, things will only be becoming worse for him.
He hasn`t paid rent so he is going to lose eviction anyway. Additionally, he has to bear the attorney fees, and will have to pay the due rent, late fees and the cost occurred in eviction. His credit score will get affected, chance of ever getting a mortgage sours. And hardly anybody allows him to rent again with an eviction on his name.
· Cash for Keys
If you succeed in reasoning, your tenant most likely vacates the place and pay the rent. But even if reasoning stays unsuccessful, you can try your last bet with cash for keys before going for eviction. However this method is unorthodox and is straightaway rejected by 90% of Landlords. Cash for keys means you give some cash to the tenant to take back the peaceful possession of your property. It means you need not to employ the eviction and can remove the tenant with little efforts.
What do you think of a person who is not even able to pay his house rent on time? Surely that person is in a financial mess. And how such a person will bear the cost of eviction? This is where the cash for keys comes into play. Throwing some money at tenant for making them move out can save you from huge eviction costs and future rent losses. In most cases, $500 to $1000 is enough to get the task done. But always keep in mind that never handover the money until you get the peaceful possession of your property back.
True that cash for keys can put your pride on the ground. But business is business and never personal.
#Step 4: Sending Legal Eviction Notice
When you have tried everything and nothing has seemed to work out with the tenant. Then it is time, you take the route of eviction. And to start with eviction, you require to serve a legal notice to the tenant.
· Type of Eviction Notice
Usually there are two types of eviction notice for two different scenarios. If you are evicting the tenant for failure in paying rent, then you need to serve `Pay or Vacate` Notice. The other is known as `Notice to Comply` which is served when tenant doesn`t abide by the terms of agreement.
· Handing Notice to Tenant
So in your case, you will serve Pay or Vacate notice to your tenant. This legal notice acts as an ultimatum for them to either pay or vacate the premises. This notice contains the exact details of why you are evicting the tenant and what the tenant can do to avoid the eviction. The document includes the deadline date, the due amount and penalties that are levied on the tenant.
You require handing over this notice to your tenant. And if you are not able to contact the tenant, you need to tape one copy to the door and send another copy to tenant with certified mail. Don`t forget to request the return receipt for the mail as it can act as the valid proof of you serving the eviction notice to your tenant.
· Include a Personal Note
Most experienced landlords advise you to include a personal note with the eviction notice to avoid unnecessary confusion with the tenant. Your goal here is to communicate your message firmly to the tenant that they got one last chance to comply before you file eviction in the court.
An important tip here is to avoid receiving any part payments at this time from the tenant. Because doing so will make you serve a new eviction notice again before filing it in court.
#Step 5: Filing Eviction in Court
After getting an eviction notice, the tenant understands the gravity of situation. In this case, the tenant either complies by vacating the premises peacefully or may become completely hostile. And if tenant goes with the latter case and reached the deadline of the notice. It is time to file the eviction in the court.
· Either hire the Attorney or do eviction yourself
Reaching towards eviction filing in the court, you are required to either hire an attorney or to do eviction yourself. You can proceed with any of the option as both are valid under law. However, hiring an attorney is suitable for first time landlords who have no prior experience of filing eviction in court. Hiring a professional can save your precious time and efforts.
You should dedicate these resources in your business instead of wasting unnecessarily in processing eviction. Hiring an attorney will also save you from multiple hassle trips of court which are required during the times of trials. Why waste your time and energy on doing eviction yourself when the cost of hiring attorney can be easily bear by the landlord insurance.
· Visit Local Court to file eviction
Hiring an attorney is not everyone`s cup of tea especially when the costs are high and you forgot to add a legal cover in your landlord insurance. So, if you are doing eviction yourself, then you need to file your eviction in the local court of your state.
You will probably be required to pay a small court fees. A Summon then will be issued against the tenant and you are provided with a court case date. The Summon notice will be sent to your tenant. and they have to be present before the judge on the court date.
· Preparing documents for the Court Day
It is important you put all the documents in order before presenting in front of judge. These documents generally includes the tenant`s rental application, lease agreement, and failed payment records. Keep the delivery receipt as a proof of serving the legal notice to the tenant. Also take the records of written communication that happen between you and your tenant.
#Step 6: The Court Day
When the court date arrives, stay prepared and takes the above required documents with you. The judge will hear both the parties and possibly everything will go in your favor. Most of the time, a tenant hardly appears before the court making the judge announce the verdict in your favor automatically.
The Judge then issues a writ of possession in which he order against the tenant to collect the money owed. The owned money can include owed rent payments, late fees and other fees like the court fees and the attorney fees.
As per the order, the tenant needs to vacate the premises giving back the peaceful possession to the landlord. The tenant needs to vacate the property under the given days say about a day or in a week. However, it completely depends upon the state that how many days they give the tenant to vacate the property.
#Step 7: Scheduling with the Sheriff
Once you are issued with the writ of possession. You need to handover this document to the sheriff to eject the tenant from the property. A Small fee and some documents need to be filled to schedule an eviction date with tenant. Doing so, the sheriff will set a date and will come to your home to peacefully remove the tenant and their personal belongings from the property. Never try to push your tenant and their contents out of your property by your own.
The sheriff will come to your house and put a notice with date for your tenant. The notice marks when they will come to evict the tenant and their stuff out of property. The tenant will most likely to leave on its own after getting the notice. But if he is still staying, wait for the sheriff to come. And once they arrive, take a video camera and shoot the tenants content. And only after that, remove the tenant and his belongings out of the property.
#Step 8: Finally collecting the lost payments
When the tenant has been finally evicted out of the property, you need to collect your past due payments. There are three ways you can recover your lost payments from the tenants. These include
· Garnishing tenant wages:
You can garnish the wages of your tenant to collect all the past due payments from them. In order to garnish the wages, you need to contact the employer of your tenant with the judge`s order. The employer will then garnish the wages of tenant and pay the dues before paying to the tenant. There are state specific rules for garnishing the wages. And, you can`t garnish the wages of tenants who are government employees or providing services in such domains.
· Garnishing Tax Returns
It is possible some state allows you to garnish the tax returns filed by your tenant. You can collect your due money from the tax return your tenant is going to get. However, this is available for certain window of the year and you can`t garnish the tax return anytime you want. Mostly the state needs you to file for garnishing in the tax season.
· Hire a Debt Collector
A debt collector is a person who collects the money for you from the tenant. They took a part of the money your tenant owes in due back rents and penalties. The chance of recovering through private debt collector is small but they will chase the tenant for many years to come.
The Bottom Line
Eviction is a part of business and should be done with confidence. However, always keep a habit of doing a complete background check of tenant before allowing them to live on your property.