When you buy a home, whether your primary residence of a rental property, it’s an investment that requires a lot of logistical organization. Renting your property can be a great source of extra income (or pay off your mortgage) but can also prove to be a stressful task. Many landlords consider themselves lucky to get responsible, communicative, and long-term tenants.
Unfortunately, not all renters are created equal. In today’s housing market, there are also many reasons that you may need to evict your tenant. Things like non-payment of rent, lease violations, property damage, or illegal activity on the premises can be good reasons to give your tenant the boot. With solid evidence and legal representation, you are likely to win your case.
But, there is always a chance that the tenant might come out on top. You may wonder what the steps are to execute an eviction, or what happens if your tenant wins the eviction. Keep reading to learn how you protect yourself and your property during the eviction process.
Table Of Contents For When A Tenant Wins An Eviction
- What Are The Steps To Evict A Tenant?
- How Can A Tenant Win An Eviction?
- What To Do If A Tenant Wins?
- Tips On How To Win An Eviction Case
When you rent your home, the hope is that your tenants will treat the space with the same respect you would. Even if you have a good relationship with your tenants, it’s important to remember that renting is a business.
This is why vetting your tenants through tenant screening companies like rent-prep is one of the most important parts of being a landlord! Unfortunately, there are some legitimate and common reasons to give your tenants the boot.
Evicting can be a complicated and confusing process, so it’s important to know the steps and how to complete the process correctly.
- Understand and protect your rights. It’s important to know your state’s laws when drafting a lease – before the tenant moves in! Lawyers and resources like US Legal Forms and Uniform Law Commission can help you to create an effective and responsible lease as well as conduct research in the case of an eviction.
- Make sure you have a valid eviction reason, but first speak with your tenants. It’s important to remember that removing the tenant’s belongings or changing the locks without an official eviction filed is illegal in every state. There are many reasons to evict a tenant (that vary by state) but they generally include failing to pay rent, violating a lease agreement (like pets or illegal substances), or causing significant damage to your property.
Before you jump the gun – talk to your tenant and explain. The eviction process is long and if you can correct the problem immediately, it’s definitely the easy road. But – be strong but firm. Don’t give your tenant an opportunity to make the same mistake twice.
- Deliver a formal eviction notice. Create a letter of document that creates a clear instruction and deadline for your tenant (including a date). Use this guide to help you create a notice and post it on the door of your property.
- File an official eviction with the court – and attend the hearing, if necessary. Visit your local courthouse to file an official eviction notice.
You may have to pay a fee, but the courts will take care of summoning the tenant for you, which can remove some of the awkward interaction between you and your renters. Make sure you bring documentation of your lease and all communication that has transpired between you and your tenant.
- Evict the tenant and collect past-due rent. After a certain date, the courts can have the police physically remove the tenant if they do not or cannot rectify the situation.
Although proper documentation and legitimate reasons will work in your favor, it is possible to lose an eviction case. The most common reasons for a landlord to lose an eviction are:
- Not settling out of court. Going to court can increase fees, cause you to lose money, and cause unnecessary stress for you. The truth is – some courts are tenant-friendly and will fight for the side of the renter. It’s best to settle the eviction outside of court, if possible.
- Not documenting or following eviction notice guidelines. Not properly following eviction steps and legal proceedings can lead in your loss in the eviction. Be sure to carefully document conversations, notices, and leases with your tenants.
- Accepting partial rent payment. Once you have accepted even a partial payment from the renter, you lose the right to evict them. Do not accept any money from the tenant unless it’s the full amount and you intend to cancel the eviction.
If your tenant wins the eviction, they will have the right to stay on the property. The court will decide how to proceed forward on a case-by-case basis. Possible outcomes could include:
- Court orders may state that the landlord pays the tenant’s legal fees.
- The landlord might be responsible for additional fees paid to the tenant depending on the ruling of the judge – and if you followed proper legal protocol for the eviction.
The best way to ensure that you do not lose an eviction case (or end up owing money to your tenant) is to follow our guidelines below.
The best way to win and eviction case is to document, document, document. Keep record of every conversation you had with the tenant, whether by phone, email, or text message. Be sure to stay organized with copies of all dated documents, including:
- Bounced checks or payments
- Records of payment and all related communication
- A copy of the dated eviction notice and proof that the tenant received the notice (certified mail works nicely for this, as it requires a signature)
For an active community of landlord and renting advice, check out the RentPrep Facebook page, where you can interact with other landlords who have experienced similar eviction situations to you. Avoid these and other sticky rental situations by screening your tenants before signing a lease.