What Should You Do After Evicting A Tenant?
February 21, 2023
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In the nine states in North America that Eviction Lab tracks for evictions, there have been around 1.8 million evictions since mid-March 2020.
As you can see from this limited sample size, there’s a decent chance you may have to evict someone as a landlord.
Not only is it important to understand how to evict a tenant properly, but it’s also just as important you know what to do afterwards.
The process isn’t complete once the tenant is off your property.
In this article, we’re going to cover what you need to do after an eviction.
Change the Locks
Once the sheriff escorts your tenant away from the property, it’s time to change the locks. You should consider bringing a reliable handyman or a professional locksmith with you to make sure everything goes smoothly.
The importance of changing the locks promptly after an eviction cannot be overstated. You don’t know if your tenant or someone else has an extra set of keys to get back into your property. And it’s not worth the risk, so changing the locks prevents this from creating a problem down the road.
Remove Anything Your Tenant Left Behind
The next thing you need to do after evicting a tenant is remove any remaining personal property left behind by the tenant. This might include furniture, clothing, appliances, or other items. The specific laws regarding abandoned property vary from state to state; but generally, landlords must follow a certain procedure for storing and disposing the items.
In some states, landlords must provide tenants with written notice of the abandoned property and give them a certain amount of time to reclaim it before discarding it. In other states, landlords may be able to dispose of the property right away without providing notice.
It’s critical for landlords to familiarize themselves with the laws related to abandoned property in their jurisdiction and follow the appropriate procedures to avoid legal consequences (e.g., a lawsuit for improperly discarding tenant’s items). It’s a good idea to take steps to protect yourself by taking photos or inventory of the abandoned property and documenting your actions to show you followed state laws.
Inspect Your Property
After your property is safely secured, it’s time to return to your land and perform an inspection of the property. You want to bring a new copy of your walkthrough list and the move in inspection to compare. Take any photos you deem necessary especially if there is damage to your rental unit.
Sometimes, angry tenants damage your property to get back at you. This is why it’s important to document everything and have before and after photos.
Make sure to check for these common issues in these areas:
- Mold in the kitchen and bathroom(s)
- Holes in the walls and/or ceiling
- Wear and tear on the carpet
- Leaks in the kitchen, bathroom faucets and toilet
- Cracks and disrepair in the windows and window locks
- Issues with the water heater and other appliances
File a Small Claims Case for Damage, if Necessary
If your tenant has caused an exceptional amount of damage to your rental property after an eviction, you can file a small claims case to try to recover payment for the damage.
You will need to follow these steps:
- Identify jurisdiction: File the claim with the court that has jurisdiction over the case based on location and amount for damages you’re seeking.
- Create the complaint: Write a complaint that explains the property damage and be as detailed as possible.
- File the complaint: File the paperwork with the court and pay the filing fee. You must provide a copy of the complaint to the defendant as well.
- Serve the defendant: You must ensure the defendant is served according to law through personal service or through mail.
- Attend the hearing: Present your evidence and make your case at the hearing.
- Accept the decision: The court will award you recompense for the damages, dismiss the case altogether, or order a continuation of the proceedings.
The specific process may differ by state, so be sure to conduct research.
Rent the Unit Again as Soon as Possible
After the other steps, your goal is obviously to rent the unit to someone new as soon as possible to minimize turnover. This step includes preparing the unit for new tenants, cleaning and making any necessary repairs.
Advertising and marketing are important in this step. You want to maximize your chances of finding a great tenant quickly. Screening potential tenants carefully is also vital to ensure they will be responsible and respectful renters. You want to do everything in your power to avoid another eviction.
As always, be aware of fair housing laws and avoid discrimination in advertising, screening, and renting the unit. You cannot discriminate against prospective tenants based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, family status, or disability.
This step is all about getting back on your feet. You want to re-establish consistent income as soon as you can. Once again, though, we cannot overstate the importance of properly screening and selecting reliable tenants to minimize the risk of future eviction proceedings.
Following the correct procedures for an eviction is critical. However, what you do after the tenant leaves your property is just as important.
By following the guidelines in this article, you’ll be well on your way to getting your business back up and running.