7 Ways To Avoid Evictions
February 21, 2023
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If there’s one thing every landlord wants to avoid, it’s evictions.
They can be expensive, time-consuming, frustrating and mentally exhausting.
One of the best things you can do for your business is prevent them.
With that in mind, let’s look at seven specific ways to prevent evictions and improve your business.
Screen Tenants Thoroughly
Avoiding evictions starts with your screening process. The better your process, the less likely you’ll deal with evictions later.
The best screening processes start with a great outline. Your screening process should involve passive screening techniques, pre-screening, a rental application, employer references (that you actually call to learn more about the prospective tenant), previous landlords and background checks.
All of these steps are critical to learn about a potential tenant and figure out if they’re a good fit. You want a full picture of the person or persons you’re entrusting with your most valuable asset. The work you do on the front end will save you headaches on the back end.
For a more detailed article on screening tenants, check out our blog post here.
Establish Clear Rules in the Lease
Overdue rent, property damage, dangerous pets, and noise complaints are some of the most common reasons for evictions. If your lease is unclear about any of these things upfront, you could be in a world of trouble later.
Thus, it’s crucial to explain rules and expectations in your lease. You want your tenant to understand what they’re getting into and how you will handle different situations. The clearer you are in your lease, the better protected you are if your tenant violates any of the agreed upon terms.
Build a Healthy Landlord-Tenant Relationship
If you promote open and honest communication, you increase the likelihood your tenant will proactively communicate about potential issues. You want tenants to be honest if they run into issues.
That said, you must be consistent. Don’t give certain tenants more leniency than others. You don’t want to set a precedent that you accept late payments.
At the end of the day, the more honest your tenants are with you ahead of time, the easier it is to figure out a path forward that works for everyone.
Discuss Financial Hardships
This goes hand in hand with building healthy relationships. It doesn’t benefit anyone to wait until past due rent alerts pile up to discuss financial issues. For instance, if your tenant loses their job, you want to know about that. There may be a way to set up a temporary plan to help them get back on their feet.
Evictions are often costly and mentally exhausting, so it may be worth showing grace to a great tenant who fell on a stretch of bad luck. Or maybe you can forgive part of the debt if they agree to move out right away. The point here is to avoid an eviction if you can, and it still makes sense for your business.
Consider Cash for Keys
Cash for keys can be a cost-effective way to remove a tenant from your property. You offer your tenant cash if they vacate the rental without causing issues. It’s often the best way to make an unfortunate situation a win-win for you and your tenant.
This can be a great alternative even if you’re likely to win a judgment against your tenant because collecting overdue rent and expenses can be difficult. Therefore, this process could be the best option for your business.
Here are some tips to ensure the process goes well:
- Communicate proactively with your tenant about the consequences of an eviction without getting emotional.
- Follow relevant laws and rules.
- Put everything in writing to make the agreement legally enforceable.
- Try to get the tenant to move out as quickly as possible.
- Avoid violating fair housing laws.
- Avoid long negotiations with the tenant.
- Avoid mixing the security deposit and the cash for keys agreement money. You may need the security deposit for damages, and you don’t want to create a confusing situation.
Connect Tenants to Social Support Services
Another way to avoid evictions is to connect tenants with social support services. It isn’t easy for many tenants to find and connect with these services, so this is an act of goodwill on your part.
A lot of states have renters support or rental assistance programs. For example, agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can help tenants if they qualify and are eligible for the program.
Consider Reporting Tenants to Credit Bureaus
Lastly, if your tenant isn’t paying rent on time, you can report them to credit bureaus. You usually must wait 30 days before you can do this, but letting your tenant know you plan to report them may encourage them to pay rent.
Tenants understand that their credit score impacts their ability to find a new place, get a mortgage, or apply for credit. Thus, it’s in their best interest to prevent their credit score from taking a negative hit.
Evictions aren’t fun for anyone. They’re expensive, burdensome, and joyless.
While the worst-case scenario cannot always be avoided, the seven ways we’ve outlined above should give you a great chance to prevent evictions.