6 Common Mistakes Landlords Make During Evictions
February 21, 2023
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Everyone is more prone to err when they’re stressed, and landlords are no exception.
Evictions are stressful events and even the most conscientious landlord can make mistakes under pressure.
Thus, it’s important to know what to look out for when you must evict a tenant and how to avoid common mistakes.
Let’s look at the six most common ones below and how you can prevent these from happening.
Mistake #1: Sending the Wrong Notice
An eviction notice is a requirement for any eviction. It must be the proper notice according to state and local regulations. It’s typical to give tenants a chance to fix the issue as long as the problem isn’t egregious.
For instance, if your tenant has overdue rent outstanding, it’s common to send a Pay or Quit Notice and give them three days to take care of the debt. This notice allows you to file an eviction if your tenant doesn’t pay within the allotted time.
It’s prudent to consult with a lawyer if you are at all unsure which notice you need to provide. This article – How To Evict A Tenant? – goes into detail about the different kinds of notices and the circumstances you use them in.
Preventing this mistake comes down to educating yourself and meeting with an attorney if you have questions. It’s critical to get this right so take the necessary action to do things right the first time.
Mistake #2: Losing Your Temper
The importance of keeping your emotions in check during evictions cannot be overstated. Evictions are a last resort, so you’re naturally going to feel frustrated. They’re joyless and often extremely stressful events. But it’s key to remain calm and equanimous throughout the process.
The last thing you want is to lose your temper and say something that your tenant interprets as threatening or discriminatory.
The key here is to keep the end goal in mind. Allow yourself to feel angry or frustrated, but don’t let that impact your actions or words. Exercise self-control and step away from situations as needed.
Mistake #3: Do-It-Yourself Evictions
Some landlords erroneously believe they can enter their property and remove their tenant’s personal items if their tenant isn’t abiding by the lease terms. The only thing this will probably accomplish is a visit from the police and a court case that favors your tenant. Tenants have rights and trying to impose vigilante justice is an avoidable mistake.
Instead of taking things into your own hands, go through the proper channels and evict a tenant legally. This will work much better as a long-term solution and will probably lead to a much better outcome if things go to court.
Furthermore, when a court grants a writ of restitution and awards you the case, law enforcement still removes your tenant from the premises.
Mistake #4: Lacking Proof of Damage or Late Rent Payments
Documentation and paper trails are your best friends in court. But the key to winning an eviction hearing starts long before you end up in the courtroom. This is why you want to put everything of significance between you and your tenant in writing. And, if you don’t have property management software, keep receipts and pristine records.
If your tenant fails to pay rent over and over, you need to have proof for the court (in the form of bank statements, a copy of the lease, the notice provisions, etc.). If there’s physical damage to the property, bring before and after photos. And, if you have copies of emails between you and your tenant, bring those as well. The point here is to make it easy for the court to see the issue.
Mistake #5: Conducting “Constructive” Evictions
Occasionally, landlords may try to coerce tenants into paying overdue rent by turning off utilities or changing the locks. This kind of behavior is illegal in every state.
Even if your tenant hasn’t paid rent for the past three months, this isn’t the approach you should take. The penalties for engaging in constructive evictions aren’t minor. You need to follow the eviction process and the laws in place.
You aren’t going to have long-term success trying to manipulate your tenant off your property. And you can do even worse damage to your business by making these decisions.
Mistake #6: Not Acting Assertively
You cannot let a tenant take advantage of you regardless of how kind or nice they seem. If someone isn’t paying rent on time or violating the terms of the lease agreement, you must take action. The longer you wait to take action, the harder things will be.
Mail eviction notices right away. You don’t want to let things become murky or confusing. Don’t accept partial payments, either. This is a passive action that can come back to haunt you. The court won’t take you very seriously if you want to evict a tenant, but you’ve been accepting partial payments.
The key to avoid this mistake is assertive action, a willingness to enact consequences laid out in the lease, and
Every landlord makes mistakes. And evictions can be an especially easy catalyst for mistakes.
That said, if you keep an eye out for these six common mistakes, you’ll give yourself a great chance to avoid typical pitfalls and get the eviction process to work in your favor.