This question is tricky, and it may have varying answers. However, it is advisable to check your state’s laws before you can take any action. With the knowledge of the law in your country, you will be sure to do everything legally. But it is useful to reason with your tenant before taking any legal action.
What To Do If A Tenant Stops Paying Rent
Has your tenant stopped paying rent, and you are confused about what to do as a landlord? You can employ the following tactics to deal with your tenants:
Discussing With Your Tenant
When your tenant stops paying rent or pays late, the first thing to do is talk to them and know where the problem is. While it is good to be understanding, your tenants need to pay their bills on time, or they cannot stay. Your tenant needs to know that you also have obligations to meet. Let them realize that you understand their hardship and that you can allow them out of their lease with no penalty.
You can inform your tenant that they will get a formal eviction notice if they can’t move out independently. Your tenant may start paying rent on time after talking to them since they know that moving out will come with additional costs. The hustle of looking for another place, paying moving costs, rent, and security deposits in a new home may make them reconsider their commitment.
Give Your Tenant A ‘Pay’ Or ‘Quit’ Notice.
It is a requirement in almost every state for a landlord to issue a pay or quit notice to a tenant who does not meet his/her obligation to pay rent on time. This notice is usually a formal email or letter reminding them of their late payment. The message states the number of days they have to honor their obligation; otherwise, their lease will be terminated.
In most states, the notice ranges from three to five days. If the tenants fail to pay and also move out, they formally lose their right to occupy your premises. You can then file an action with your local court to have them evicted.
File An Eviction Order
A landlord cannot kick a tenant out of their property unless they have a sheriff’s assistance. You can also not cut off essential utilities. If, as a landlord, you have a tenant that is not paying rent, you may need to go to your local court and do the proper filing for an eviction hearing. Ensure that you carry a copy of the notice to ‘pay’ or ‘quit’ as they may need to see it.
The administrator will list your hearing once you pay court fees, and this may be within 2 – 6 weeks. Some courts may serve your tenant the subpoena, but in some cases, you will be responsible. If, after explaining your case, you win a judgment, then you can get an authorized person to kick out the tenant.
Engage A Lawyer Or A Property Manager
You may, at times, be unable to deal with your tenant in enforcing timely rent payments. In such a case, it is best to hire a property manager to act on your behalf. A professional property manager will be in a position to ensure that rogue tenants pay their rents on time. Property management companies have systems in place that allow them to handle uncooperative tenants.
You could also hire a lawyer to serve the tenant with formal letters and notice and hence help recover your money.
Paying Your Tenant To Move Out
Your tenant may still not be in a position to leave your house even after you have talked with them. You can decide to avoid the evection process by entering into a deal with them. If your tenant is experiencing financial problems and cannot pay rent, you can motivate them to leave by paying them. While this idea may sound absurd since they owe you, it might work well and save you the trouble of eviction costs.
You will have to consider the options of delayed evections together with the cost involved. An eviction process may take between one and three months, which will still be costly for you as the landlord. Paying your tenant to move out will save you a great deal, and you may even get another one immediately. It will also free you of the stress you are likely to experience as you wait for the process of kicking them out to end.
Steps For evicting a tenant
Sometimes it becomes inevitable to evict your tenant who is not paying rent regardless of your relationship with them. However, before you can undertake the eviction process, it is necessary to understand the rules and procedures. The following steps are crucial:
Knowing The Eviction Laws Of Your State
Every state has its eviction laws, and it is always advisable to understand them before signing a lease agreement. You can engage your lawyer to write the deal using legal forms. In case you had not signed a lease agreement, try to find out more about your current situation and if you can win the eviction case. Familiarize yourself with URLTA (Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act) to get more details on the legal eviction process.
Avoid taking matters into your hands since self-help evictions are not legal.
Have A Genuine Reason For Eviction
Before you embark on the process of evicting your tenant, ensure that you have a lawful and valid reason. The following reasons will justify your need to kick out your tenant from your premises;
1. Failure to pay rent or continuous late payment
2. Violation of the lease agreement such as subletting, keeping pets, and using the premises illegally
3. Damage to the property
4. A tenant causing safety or health hazards
5. Breaking of health, occupancy, or health ordinances
6. If you have documented evidence that your tenant is guilty of the above offenses, then you are justified to evict them.
Giving A Formal Notice To Evict
If you find out that you have enough valid reasons to evict your uncooperative tenant, then ensure that you follow the laid down legal procedures. You will need to give adequate notice of eviction. The notice is a simple form or letter informing your tenant of the reasons for removal. It should also tell them what to do to avoid being evicted, such as repairing the house and paying their dues.
Your eviction notice should include the following:
1. A deadline to pay or move out
2. The total amount owed to you by the tenant
3. Post the notice within a certain number of days before you can file the eviction with your local court
4. Tape the document on the tenant’s door and also send it through a certified mail address
5. Use an eviction form template that is specific for your state.
Filing For Eviction With Your Local Court
The next step after serving your tenant with an eviction notice is to go to your local courthouse. Pay the required fee so that the clerk schedules a hearing and summons the tenant. You may be required to show that you gave enough time for an eviction notice.
Attending The Court Hearing
When attending the court hearing, ensure that you have all the necessary documents and proof of your claim. Make sure also that you have the following among others:
1. Bounced checks
2. Lease agreements
3. Any communication records between your tenant and you
4. Lease agreements
5. A record of any payment
6. A copy of the eviction notice
Evidence that your tenant received the notice. This proof could be in the form of a post office receipt or the tenant’s signature.
Evicting The Tenant
If the court approves the eviction process, your tenant will be given a deadline to leave. They will be allowed between 48 hours and one week, depending on your state. If the tenant does not move out after the expiry of the deadline, you can hire a sheriff to enforce the eviction order.