How to Evict a Problematic Tenant

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Managing a rental property is a great way to generate revenue and build wealth over time, but it can also be stressful. As a landlord, you’ll be responsible for conducting regular repairs and maintenance, and if you have recurring issues with a tenant (like if they refuse to pay rent or if they heavily damage the property), you may be forced to go through an eviction. Evictions can be costly, time-consuming, and stressful, but there are ways to make the eviction easier on yourself.

Hiring a Property Management Company

If you’re concerned about the possibility of eviction, one of the best things you can do is hire a property management company proactively. The company will work on your behalf to collect rent from tenants, manage disputes, conduct maintenance, and (if necessary) manage evictions. The company will charge you a fee, usually a portion of the revenue generated by the property, but you can practically treat the property as a hands-free investment.  

Goals for Managing an Eviction

If you want to manage an eviction successfully, you’ll have a handful of main goals to achieve.

  • Avoiding an eviction. Evictions should always be treated as a last resort, rather than a solution to a simple problem. In most cases, you’ll be able to work out a deal with your tenant, or you’ll be able to curb their problematic behavior. If you can avoid resorting to an eviction, you and your tenant will both be better off.
  • Remaining legally compliant. Most areas have strict laws regarding evictions, and in some cases, eviction may not be available to you for certain reasons. Because these laws vary by area, it’s impossible to make blanket statements that apply everywhere. Instead, it’s your responsibility to become familiar with eviction laws in your area, specifically.
  • Hastening the process. k

Fortunately, there are many strategies that can help you achieve all these goals simultaneously.

Work to Understand Eviction Laws in Your City

If you have a problematic tenant, your first job is to work to understand the laws in your city. Hopefully, you’re already familiar with landlord and tenancy laws in your area, after reading up on them before purchasing rental property. If not, now is the time to do your due diligence.

It’s also a good idea to contact a lawyer. You may feel you have a good understanding of the laws as they’re written, but a lawyer will help you understand the nuances, and guide you through the correct processes to make sure you’re fully compliant.

Work Out a Solution With Your Tenant

There are many ways your tenant could be problematic, but regardless of the circumstances, you should take the time to try and work out a solution.

For example, if your tenant is disruptive to your other tenants, playing loud music late into the night, give them a written warning about the behavior. Notify them that they’ll need to correct it or face consequences.

If your tenant hasn’t paid rent for several months, consider working out a repayment plan with them. Give them the opportunity to pay their back rent, or work out new terms that are more affordable to them. If that fails, consider sending them a written warning about their failure to pay rent consistently.

As you try to work things out with your tenant, make sure you include as much content as possible in writing. This way, if the eviction becomes legally complex, you’ll have a paper trail to show you tried to resolve the situation without eviction.

Send a Notice of Tenancy Termination

Evictions typically follow only after a formal notice of tenancy termination. These notices tend to take one of three main forms, dictated by the circumstances and the laws in your state:

  1. Pay rent or quit. With this notice, your tenant is given one last chance to pay rent, or else they must move out.
  2. Cure or quit. With this notice, your tenant is given one last chance to fix a problematic behavior, or correct a lease violation, or else they must move out.
  3. Unconditional quit. With this notice, the tenant must move out no matter what. Typically, these notices are only allowed if the tenant has repeatedly violated the lease agreement, or if they’ve committed an egregious offense (like destroying part of the property or engaging in dangerous illegal behavior).

If you submit this written notice and the tenant refuses to move out, you can go through with an eviction. If the tenant attempts to mount a defense, it could add weeks, or even months to the process. If the tenant can prove that you’re practicing discrimination, that you’re violating laws in your state, or that you made mistakes during the eviction process, they may lower your chances of a win. 

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