Time is money when it comes to evictions, and mistakes made along the way can cost a landlord both.
Are you sabotaging your own eviction cases?
What you do in the days and weeks leading up to an eviction can make or break the case when it goes to court. Here are 5 common pre-eviction mistakes that you can avoid:
1. Thinking You Have the Upper Hand
Believing that your rights as a property owners will somehow trump the rights of the tenant is a costly mistake, especially if you develop a false sense of confidence when dealing with tenant problems.
Once the tenant is in the property, you are going to need very specific legal grounds to kick them out– like unpaid rent, a serious breach of the lease, an obvious nuisance or certain types of illegal behavior, or termination of a lease with proper notice.
Research the rules or seek legal advice to determine if you can rightfully bring an eviction in your situation, and find out how long your eviction might take–contested cases can take months. That may cause you to re-think your strategy with tenants.
2. Believing the Eviction Will Be a Slam-Dunk
It’s the landlord who has to justify the case to the court. Unfortunately, not all eviction laws–and not all judges, are landlord-friendly.
Your case will only be as good as your lease, and the supporting documentation that you collected during the lease term. If you are not in the habit of keeping meticulous records, now is a good time to start.
Many evictions are contested. That means the condition of the property or a claim of uninhabitability may be fair game to fight the order for possession, or to reduce damages owed by the tenant. Has the unit been treated for bedbugs? Did the air go out over the summer? Did you charge one tenant late fees but not another? All will be revealed when the case goes to court.
3. My Lease Will Save the Day!
True–if it’s a good lease. Often leases fall short by not providing clear language regarding key elements. Examples may include having no provision defining when your tenant is in default in rent payments, late rent based on rolling late fees that can be construed as illegal, or not restricting the behavior you are trying to evict over.
Some provisions that are ’standard’ in packaged leases may be illegal in your situation. Have an experienced attorney in your area review your lease agreements.
4. Little Mistakes Won’t Matter
The entire eviction case hinges on proper notice to the tenants. All tenants must be notified in whatever fashion the local laws require.
The notice must be flawless–no misspelled names, timelines must be exact.
Trying to draft and serve eviction notices yourself if you are not familiar with the law can set the stage for failure–get ready to have the case dismissed, and start the whole process over again.
If you don’t know how to complete the notice forms and have them served, get help before you waste time and money.
5. I’d Never Pay a Tenant to Move Out
‘Cash for keys’ settlements–paying the bad tenants to leave, aren’t palatable to some landlords on principle. But considering the time span of the ‘average’ eviction along with the additional costs of a sheriff’s officer, a moving company, storage or possible sale of tenant’s property, cleaning, and repairing any ‘hard-feelings’ damage to the unit, it may make sense from a financial prospective.
If you can compromise with your nightmare tenant for a quicker move-out time, without leaving their mark on your unit, it could save you hardship down the road.
Original Article from AAOA-Find out more at www.joinaaoa.org.