One of the perks of property management is that it provides a solid passive revenue stream for property managers. However, the property management industry isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. There are times when property managers will have to take on an unpleasant task, such as tenant evictions.
No property manager wants to kick out a renter, because this means missing out on rent collection revenue from that person. Unfortunately, there are situations where it becomes necessary to deliver an eviction notice and start filing proceedings against a renter.
Tenant evictions are a serious matter and should only be performed for the right reasons. Eviction regulations typically require a specific cause before eviction proceedings can begin—though what qualifies as a proper cause for eviction may vary from one state/municipality to the next. What are some reasons to evict a tenant? Here’s a short list of good reasons to evict a tenant:
Reason #1: Rent Collection Issues
One of the most common reasons to evict a tenant is that they are not paying the rent. Rent collection is a vital revenue stream for property managers, and housing a renter who isn’t paying puts a drain on resources that’s even worse than simply having a vacancy since the renter is causing wear and tear on the property.
In these cases, it may be necessary to send the renter a “late rent” notice to remind them that they need to pay their rent for a given month. If the notice spurs them to pay their rent, great! If not, there is now a record that the renter was notified of their tardy rent payment, and the property manager can begin preparing for the next step of the process.
If the renter is simply unable to meet the current month’s rent collection, instead of sending an eviction notice, it may help to create a payment plan that the renter can follow while they work to resolve their issues. However, if they are extremely late on rent payment or simply refuse to pay, there may be no choice but to evict the problem tenant.
Reason #2: Problem Tenants Causing Damage
Some wear and tear on a rental property is to be expected, which is why property maintenance services are a constant need. However, there are situations where a renter is causing far more damage than is acceptable under “normal wear and tear.”
It’s important to be able to define the difference between “normal wear and tear” and “damage to the property.” As one Rocket Lawyer article points out, “Scuffs on the hardwood floor or fingerprint smudges near light switches do not qualify as damage. But if your tenant knocks out a wall or runs their car through a garage? That’s a different story.”
In other words, if it’s something that is likely to happen from everyday use, then it doesn’t constitute “damage to the property.” However, if it is something that requires extraordinary cleaning effort or is likely to result in major repair expenses, then it may qualify as property damage.
It is necessary to remember that accidents do happen. A one-off incident can be overlooked, especially if the renter is willing to pay for the damages. On the other hand, if a renter has a long history of causing property damage, then they’re a problem tenant and will need to be evicted to prevent further harm. Keeping records of these incidents and how they’ve impacted others may be important for filing an eviction notice.
Reason #3: The Renter is Being a Public Nuisance
Noise complaints are a common occurrence, especially in multifamily properties where many renters are gathered together in an enclosed space. While the occasional bit of noise is only natural, repeated noise violations can be a public nuisance.
The problem here is that, as noted by Landlordology, “if ‘enough’ noise/nuisance complaints are filed against your tenants, the police department will actually fine the landlord.” That’s right, the renter is the one being a nuisance, but the property owner is the one that will get into trouble.
This is why it’s important to:
- Include excessive noise as a violation in lease agreements; and
- Remind renters that too many noise violations can be cause for eviction.
If a renter persists in behaviors that create noise violations, it may be necessary to send them an eviction notice.
Reason #4: Problem Tenants Committing Felonies
Even in the nicest neighborhoods, there is always the risk that a renter may be engaging in criminal activities. One of the most common criminal activities that serves as cause for tenant eviction is the storage and distribution of controlled substances (i.e. drugs). If a property manager discovers evidence that a renter is committing crimes, they are expected to report their findings to the police.
If a problem tenant is committing crimes on the property, the property manager would be well within their rights to begin filing an eviction notice with cause (after contacting the police and their attorney). The rules regarding tenant evictions for illegal or drug-related activities vary from state to state. Landlordology notes that, “In most states, including Rhode Island, Oklahoma, and Ohio, a landlord can terminate a lease with 24 hour (or sometimes less) notice for drug or crime-related activity.”
These eviction notices should be filed as soon as possible after the authorities are notified of the illegal activity.
Reason #5 Lease Violation
Lease violations are one of the most common reasons to evict a tenant. Here, the renter is typically ignoring or flaunting some rule that was established in the lease, such as:
- Smoking in the rental property;
- Keeping unauthorized pets;
- Subletting the rental unit; or
- Using the residence for a high-traffic business.
If rules prohibiting the above actions are stipulated in the lease agreement, then renters should be given a warning along with a set amount of time to remediate the issue. How much time needs to be given for a problem tenant to fix the problem may depend on the nature of the offense and any applicable local property management regulations; a period between two weeks and one month is fairly standard.
Should the violation go uncorrected, it can be grounds to send an eviction notice.
Some Advice Regarding Tenant Evictions
While any of the above situations can be cause to send an eviction notice, it is absolutely critical for you to familiarize yourself with any and all eviction regulations in your state/municipality before starting a tenant eviction process. There may be technicalities in the eviction regulations for your state that can be used to trip up the process.
For example, say you send a renter a notice for termination with cause. In some states, you may need to specify a set period of time to fix the cause of the lease termination or give the tenant a certain amount of time to reply to the notice before you can proceed to the next step. If you don’t, the renter can use that procedural mistake to fight the eviction, delaying the case in court while you struggle with the problem tenant.
A common eviction regulation is a stipulation that a landlord/property manager is not allowed to remove the renter themselves after the eviction is upheld in court. Instead, a member of local law enforcement is usually tasked to do this. For example, in Florida, legal website Nolo states that, “The tenant can only be removed from a rental unit after the landlord has successfully won an eviction lawsuit. Even then, the only person authorized to remove the tenant is a sheriff or constable.”
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