No matter how good of a landlord you are, the hard truth is this: evictions happen. You could have the most thorough screening of tenants, and you can still end up having to evict your tenant. While evicting someone is arguably the last thing any landlord wants to deal with, a bad situation is only made worse by avoiding it.
All too often, landlords see the proverbial eviction writing on the wall, and they avoid it. Maybe they’re hoping it fixes itself, but the likelihood that the tenant miraculously pays months of overdue rent and moves out is slim to none. So the worst thing you can do as a landlord is pretending that eviction isn’t imminent.
While eviction can be time-consuming and expensive, you shouldn’t be afraid to evict. It can be costly, sure, but it doesn’t cost that much –– not when compared to the potential cost of doing nothing. It’s important to remember that eviction is the only legal way to remove a tenant from a property. That’s right; it is illegal to attempt to remove a tenant without the use of the court system. That means you cannot change the lock, move them out, or harass them to leave.
So, when you’re faced with a tenant that cannot or will not pay the rent owed, your only course of action is to evict. But don’t despair –– it doesn’t cost as much as you think.
The Case for Evicting Your Tenant
When you’re faced with the impossible situation of a bad tenant who has violated the terms of the lease and warrants eviction, you’re left with one option: evict them. It’s just that simple. You must follow your local eviction laws, but you must proceed with eviction and do so without fear.
Yes, it would be nice to avoid evictions altogether. And, if given the opportunity, you should attempt to mitigate the issue from the get-go to prevent removal entirely, but when it comes down to it, you cannot and should not be afraid to evict. Here’s why.
It’s Not as Expensive as You Think
All too often, we hear horror stories about the tens of thousands of dollars spent on eviction proceedings, and while that can be the case, it usually is not. Serving and filing fees vary by state and county, but on average are only a few hundred dollars. The bulk of the costs associated with an eviction are in lost rent, damages, and attorney fees.
It’s important to remember that you will be losing that rent no matter what. If you choose not to evict, and your tenant continues not to pay the rent, you are losing money — a lot of it. Yes, an eviction costs additional money, but it is the only way that you can recoup your losses by getting this tenant out, and hopefully getting a judgment in your favor.
Landlords often forget that an eviction not only removes the tenant, but eviction court or small claims court can also recuperate the lost rent money. If you win, the court can issue you a money judgment that requires the tenant to repay the rent and damages. Often, the judgment involves the tenant paying for the landlord’s lawyer fees. This judgment can result in the lessee’s wages or even tax return being garnished as a means of repayment.
The Alternative to Evicting Your Tenant is Worse
Should you decide not to begin the eviction process, your only option is to wait and hope things get better. Instead, you should serve your tenant with a notice to remedy their lease violation, and they have two options. Either remedy the breach within the allotted period, and all is well. Or, they don’t, and you move on to the next step.
In either scenario, the worst thing to do is nothing. If you follow the wait-and-see approach that many landlords have foolishly adopted, you’ll likely end up disappointed with the outcome. If you miss your mortgage or utility payment on the rental property, does the bank or utility wait and see if you pay it? No. They send you a notice and charge a late fee. You should adopt the same approach with your property.
If you don’t, and the tenant continues not to pay, or in any other way violate the lease terms, your only option is to sit and what? Wait until the lease ends and hope they move out of their free housing? When it’s said that way, it sounds pretty crazy. The only logical option is to embrace the process of evicting, and hope you never have to do it again.
If you’re looking for forms to help you serve notice or evict a tenant, we have that and so much more. Don’t forget to check out our forums where other landlords like you share their experiences and problems and ask for your advice. You can learn a lot about eviction and many different landlord topics on our forum page.