How Landlords Handle Evictions and the Aftermath

By Brittany Loeffler on January 16, 2019

Tenant and landlord relationships are pretty civil for the most part. The tenant pays their monthly rent in exchange to live in their landlord’s property. Unfortunately, there are some situations where the tenant does not live up to their end of the agreement and forces the landlord to evict them. There are many causes that lead to eviction and it is a lengthy and expensive legal process.

While evictions can be complicated, they can be done. Here is a guide for landlords on how to handle evictions and what happens afterward.

handling evictions

via Unsplash

What Can Lead to an Eviction?

Landlords cannot decide to evict a tenant for an unjust reason. They must have a specific reason to make their tenant leave the property before the end of their lease. These are some of the most common reasons landlords must handle evictions.

Tenant Doesn’t Pay Rent – The agreement between a tenant and landlord is that the tenant will pay a specific amount each month to stay in the property that the landlord owns. When the tenant stops paying rent, the landlord has a right to terminate their agreement and evict the tenant from the property.

Habitually Late Rental Payments - Believe it or not, landlords can handle evictions based on habitually late rental payments from their tenant. Even if the tenant pays their rent, landlords can work to evict them from the property if it truly becomes a problem, especially for the landlord’s finances.

Breach of the Lease - Along with the tenant agreeing to make rental payments to the landlord, they also agree to other conditions on how they live in the property. Some landlords do not allow pets in the property. Others do not allow overnight guests for over a certain amount of time. Whatever conditions may have been listed in the lease, the tenant agreed to follow them when they signed. If the tenant does not follow these conditions, it is considered a breach of the lease. So, if in the lease it states that pets are not allowed on the property and the tenant decides to get a dog, the landlord has the right to evict the tenant.

Substantial Damage to the Property – There is an understanding when renting a property that the property will be returned undamaged and possibly in better shape than it was received by the tenant. If the landlord finds that the tenants are not taking care of the property and causing substantial damage, the landlord can decide to evict the tenant.

Illegal Use of the Property - Typically, landlords don’t know exactly what goes on in their rental properties. However, if they find out that illegal activity is taking place inside the property, landlords can evict the tenants based on this activity.

Consult an Attorney

Landlords that handle evictions should always consult the law before proceeding with the eviction of a tenant. If this is the first time a landlord is evicting a tenant, then they should consult an attorney about the state’s laws on evictions. Since every state is different, it’s important to know exactly what your state requires when evicting a tenant. Landlords must handle evictions very carefully and comply with their state’s laws to have the greatest chance of getting rid of a problematic tenant. Landlords should consult an attorney or research the laws before confronting the tenant with an eviction notice.

handle evictions

via Unsplash

Give the Tenants Written Notice

Before giving your tenants an official eviction notice, it’s a good idea to give them a written warning. If they are not paying rent, send an email or text letting them know that if they do not pay the rent by a certain date, you will be forced to start the eviction process.

To officially begin the eviction process, landlords must give their tenants a written eviction notice. The best way to do this is to send it to them certified in the mail and taping it to the front of their door. It’s important to keep the receipt from the post office to prove that you sent the eviction notice in court.

It is not wise to confront the tenant face to face when giving them an eviction notice. Tenants can become violent and you may be put in danger. Stop by the property when you know they will be at work or out of the house and tape the notice to their door.

Try to Remedy the Situation

Landlords don’t actually want to handle evictions. As mentioned before, it’s a lengthy and expensive legal process. If it can be avoided, then that is the best route to take. Sometimes it’s the official eviction notice that will kick the tenants into gear and will pay the rent they owe. Landlords should communicate that they understand that their tenant may be in a tough situation, but that the rent needs to be paid. If an agreement can be worked out between landlord and tenant that can halt the eviction, that is better than going through with the eviction process.

handle evictions

Infographic by Brittany Loeffler

Never Take Personal Action

While landlords have the right to enter the property with given notice, they cannot go into the property and physically remove a tenant or their belongings when trying to evict them. Landlords cannot change the locks to the property or shut off the utilities in the property. Landlords should never take personal action to handle evictions. They should always leave it up to the courts and law enforcement to remove a problematic tenant.

File the Eviction with the Courts 

If a remedy cannot be made and an official eviction notice has been given to the tenant, the landlord should then take a trip down to the local courthouse to file the eviction. This comes with a fee that the landlord is required to pay. Some may not want to pay this fee and forget about the eviction altogether, but they should remember the money they are losing if the tenant continues not to pay rent.

Prepare for the Court Hearing

As with any legal issue, landlords should be prepared to walk into the court hearing with documents and evidence that the tenant has violated the lease. The landlord should collect documents such as:

  • The lease
  • Proof of previous rental payments
  • Proof of breach of the lease
  • Any communication between landlord and tenant
  • Written eviction notice
  • Receipt of an eviction notice that was mailed certified

All of these documents will be presented to the judge and will help the landlord’s case when evicting a tenant. The tenant may also come to court with documents of their own. However, they cannot fabricate rental payments so landlords typically win this type of eviction.

Be Patient with the Process

Evictions are a long legal process that can take weeks and sometimes months. Our judicial system isn’t always the most efficient, so landlords should be patient when they handle evictions. In the meantime, landlords should try to stay peaceful with the tenant and just wait for a hearing to be scheduled.

The Actual Eviction

After the hearing, the judge will give a ruling. If the judge rules in the landlord’s favor, the eviction process will soon come to an end. The judge will provide the tenant with a specific time period, typically between 48 hours and two weeks depending on the state, to vacate the property. During this time, the tenant must find another place to live and start packing up their belongings.

This is the time for landlords to start feeling relieved. Their problematic tenant is required to get out of the property and the landlord can now start looking for a new tenant to live there and pay rent.

Protecting the Property During an Eviction

Any landlords that handle evictions knows the risk of the tenant damaging the property out of anger and revenge. While there isn’t much that the landlord can physically do to protect their property from damage, they can sign up for landlord insurance. This is different than landlord liability insurance. Landlords should sign up for the police before they handle evictions. Landlord insurance will cover any damage caused to the property by the tenant, so landlords do not have to pay out of pocket for repairs before a new tenant moves in.

What To Do If the Tenant Does Not Leave

When the time period the judge gave the tenant to leave the property has expired and the tenant is still living in the property, they have now officially become a squatter. A squatter is someone who stays in a property after a lease has ended. Once again, landlords should never take personal action to remove a tenant from their property. Instead, landlords should call the sheriff’s office. Someone from the sheriff’s office will come down to the property and remove the tenant. It’s important for landlords to let the law and law enforcement handle evictions the right way.

If it comes to forcibly removing a tenant, it can be an emotional day for both the tenant and the landlord. Landlords must keep mind when they handle evictions that it is strictly business. They have made an investment to make a profit and most likely have bills to pay that are covered by the tenant’s rent. Evicting a tenant is never personal, it is just what is best for the landlord’s investment and interest.

Collecting Remaining Rent

If the eviction was caused by the tenant not paying rent, the landlord has a right to go after the rent that is owed. This can be the hardest part of the eviction process. If the tenant did not leave a forwarding address, which they probably won’t because they know that they still owe money, there are a couple of ways to find out where the tenant lives. Landlords can go to the post office and ask about a change of address or call the tenant’s employer or any references they provided when applying for the apartment.

Landlords can also take the issue to small claims court. This is the best way to go about collecting any remaining rent owed because it gets the law involved and pushes the tenant to pay it back. If the judge rules in the landlord’s favor, they can set a judgment against the tenant. This means the rent can come out of their paycheck or from their tax returns. Either way, the landlord is ensured that they will receive the remaining rent owed.

Preventing Evictions in the Future

Once a landlord has gone through the eviction process, they never want to handle evictions again. It’s a long, expensive, and emotional process that isn’t easy or desirable on either side. So, landlords will want to take steps to prevent an eviction from happening again.

When finding a new tenant for a property, landlords should have a tenant screening process. Ask potential tenants to provide current bank statements, credit reports, and references from past landlords and their current employer. Run a background check on the potential tenant for any previous arrests or evictions. This will give landlords the peace of mind that they need after handling an eviction.

Handle Evictions the Right Way

Evictions aren’t an easy process. It requires a lot of time and closely following the laws set by the state. Landlords should research the laws and consult an attorney before beginning the eviction process. After a consultation, landlords must provide written official notice of eviction to the tenant by taping it to the door and mailing it certified to the tenant. Once the tenant has received the notice, the landlord must file the eviction with the courts and prepare documents for a hearing with a judge. The landlord will present their proof of breach of the lease to the judge. If the case is strong, the judge will rule in the landlord’s favor and require the tenant to vacate the property in a certain amount of time. If rent is still owed, the landlord can take the case to small claims court and will receive the rent that is owed. To prevent evictions in the future, landlords should always screen their tenants.

By Brittany Loeffler

Uloop Writer
Temple
Brittany is a senior English major with a concentration in creative writing at Temple University. After growing up in a very rural part of Pennsylvania, she found her calling in the streets of the big city of Philadelphia. Aside from writing, she enjoys reading, movies, baking, and photography.

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