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‘Should I Evict My Tenant?’ When It Makes Sense for Landlords

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Eviction is a process that often results in adverse consequences. Naturally, nobody wants to be involved in one—either as a tenant or a landlord. But sometimes, evictions become a necessary course of action for landlords.

Perhaps a tenant missed several rent payments. Or eviction might be necessary because of something more serious—like property damage or violations of your rental agreement. Whatever the reason, evicting tenants while respecting their needs—and the law—is a fine line, even for the most experienced landlords.

We spoke to several seasoned property managers and landlords for their top advice on evictions. Here are all the details on when evictions make sense, how much they cost, and when you might consider nonlegal alternatives.

Reasons for eviction

Evictions happen for many reasons, but there are a few cut-and-dried reasons landlords may have to go this route.

“Nonpayment of rent is the most common reason for eviction,” says landlord and founder Brian Davis of SparkRental. “But other common lease violations include illegal subletting (including renting the property out on Airbnb), criminal activity (particularly drug dealing), or bringing in undisclosed pets or roommates.”

Excessive noise is another big renter violation that might lead to eviction.

“In larger multifamily properties, landlords sometimes evict if the neighboring tenants repeatedly complain about noise levels, and the tenant refuses to be respectful of their neighbors,” adds Davis.

And eviction is a possibility anytime a tenant violates the lease agreement, provided the landlord can give evidence of the violation. But even when a tenant does violate the contract, an eviction doesn’t happen overnight.

What’s involved in an eviction?

Several steps have to happen before a landlord or property manager can officially start the eviction process.

“First, the landlord must terminate the lease,” says Rebecca Slaughter, senior regional manager of Property Management at Colorado Springs’ Atlas Real Estate. “The type of termination notice a landlord must serve depends on the situation (nonpayment of rent, breach of rules and regulations, etc.). Each state has procedures as to how termination notices and eviction papers must be written and served.”

For example, if a tenant hasn’t paid rent in California, landlords are allowed to serve a three-day notice to “pay or quit” the property. If the renter doesn’t pay or quit (meaning leave the premises), the landlord can officially start the eviction process. At this stage, landlords should have all their paperwork ready and be prepared to hire a lawyer to help them throughout the process.

Eviction timeline and cost to landlords

Despite a relatively quick “notice” period (depending on your state and county), the eviction process often takes many months to complete.

“Prior to COVID-19, the eviction process in California was easily three months,” says Krystle Moore, seasoned property manager and founder of Pacific Shore Capital. “Now, it’s closer to three to five months to get a nonpaying tenant out.”

Besides the amount of money a landlord loses by having a nonpaying tenant, there are also legal fees to consider.

“If I need to evict a tenant, and it’s going to take several months to get them out of the unit, I’m going to lose the rent for that time frame,” says Moore. “And I’m also going to pay for the [process of] eviction, about $1,500 to $2,500 to get them out. On top of that, you don’t know what kind of damage or condition the renter’s going to leave the unit in.”

Eviction alternatives

In light of all this, it’s often better if both parties reach an agreement and avoid eviction altogether.

“If a landlord and tenant agree to a resolution, this agreement can be a legal alternative,” says Slaughter. “In many cases, this is called a Mutual Termination of Tenancy. The tenant agrees to move out. And the landlord agrees to accept possession of the unit in lieu of filing a formal eviction.”

Another option that’s gained popularity since the pandemic is something called Cash for Keys.

“This practice grew when courts became backlogged, leading to long eviction processes,” says Moore.

Here’s how Cash for Keys works, according to Moore: Landlords negotiate a price and a time frame to move out with the tenant.

“As in, ‘I will give you X dollars to get out by this date,'” says Moore. “The benefit to the tenant is that the eviction doesn’t impact their credit negatively, which could affect their ability to rent in the future.”

Moore encourages other landlords to use compassion and be hands-on regarding tenant issues. (Barring exceptional cases in which some sort of criminal activity has happened in a rental unit.)

“Remember that you are dealing with a human being who may or may not be going through a hard time, be in between jobs, or have difficulties in their families,” says Moore.

This approach might take more time and effort. But if you talk to the tenants and figure out their challenges, it can benefit all parties.

The post ‘Should I Evict My Tenant?’ When It Makes Sense for Landlords appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

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