If a tenant is constantly violating the terms of their lease, such as not paying their rent or making disallowed changes to the property, it’s normal to want them out as soon as possible. However, following the legal eviction process is the only way to go if you want to avoid facing big and costly problems.
When trying to evict a tenant, here are the mistakes you must avoid at all costs:
1. Not reviewing state rules
Before you go to an experienced process server to have eviction notices served to your problematic tenant, make sure you know the laws in your state regarding landlord and tenant rights. Every state has its own rules when it comes to the eviction process, and not reviewing them before trying to evict your tenant can cost you in case you violate something.
2. Trying to attempt an illegal eviction
An eviction process can be drawn out and costly, but this doesn’t mean it is better to attempt an eviction by yourself. Self-help eviction involves coercing, intimidating, or forcing a tenant to move out through unscrupulous means (e.g. changing the locks, removing belongings, shutting off utilities). Evicting a tenant in this way is both illegal and unethical. And as a landlord, you must abide by the state rules if you don’t want the tenant to sue you.
Moreover, trying to evict a tenant using illegal measures can heighten tension and lead to violence. Needless to say, it is not worth it to put yourself, your property, and other tenants in danger.
3. Not trying to compromise
Eviction should be your last resort when it comes to dealing with problem tenants. If a tenant pays late (or does not pay at all), come up with alternative payment methods that can make it more possible for them to pay. If they constantly break the rules, review the lease with them in person and reiterate the consequences of not following the rules. There are lots of ways you can deal with tenant issues before you resort to eviction, so try to keep a level head and be patient.
4. Falling short on your obligations
Make sure you have met your obligations as a landlord before attempting to evict a tenant. If you fail to do so, your tenant may counter-sue because you have not held up your end of the lease.
5. Not giving proper and timely notice
Before starting the eviction notice, find out how long in advance you have to give your tenant a notice. The length of time required varies depending on your state laws and the circumstances of the eviction. If you don’t give your tenant a proper notice at the right time, the eviction process may be drawn out or unsuccessful.
Dealing with problematic tenants is part of the landlord’s job. But when push comes to shove, evicting them may be necessary. However, before starting the eviction process, make it a point to avoid these mistakes, most of which can make the process more difficult, or worse, cause more legal problems for you.