One of the biggest rental property mistakes a landlord can make is not properly preparing for an eviction. This is an expensive mistake, and not preparing for an eviction will result in extra costs and longer delays.
Evictions involve complex legal procedures, and if you’re not familiar with the laws around evictions, it’s easy to make costly mistakes that could end up hurting you financially and even putting your property at risk.
Before you begin the eviction process, make sure you’re following the terms in your lease agreement and the laws that are in place. Ignoring rental and eviction laws can lead to costly mistakes that could derail an eviction and leave you with fewer options.
There’s a timeline to each eviction, too. Make sure you’re not missing deadlines. Make sure, too, you’re not rushing things. Respect the notice periods and follow the law.
We always advise landlords not to evict without the help of an attorney or an experienced property manager.
Here are some of the common eviction mistakes we see, and how you can avoid them.
It’s A Mistake to Rush into Eviction
Don’t rush into an eviction. Removing a tenant from your property through the courts should always be a last resort, and it’s better for you and your residents if you try to work around it. The eviction should only be used when all other options have been exhausted.
If your tenant is trying to get caught up, be willing to work with them. Maybe you can put together a payment plan. Sign a payment arrangement. Get whatever support you can into place, and always reserve the right to move forward with the eviction if they don’t pay when they say they’re going to pay.
Maybe your tenant will arrive at the conclusion that they simply cannot afford the rent any longer. There could be a divorce or a job loss or an illness that has made life complicated. Instead of driving them out via an expensive and time-consuming eviction, work on a date that they can move out. You’ll have enough notice to begin marketing the property to new tenants.
Eviction can be a knee-jerk reaction, but it shouldn’t be. See if you can avoid it.
Not Providing Proper Notice
Most evictions are due to the nonpayment of rent. When your tenant does not pay on time, you cannot simply toss them out of the property. There’s a process that needs to be followed, and that process begins with a notice that you serve.
Unless otherwise stated in the lease agreement, you must provide your tenants a 10 Day Notice that they must pay rent before you file for eviction. The notice must be in writing and served to the tenant in person. If you cannot serve your tenant personally, you can post the notice on the door of the property.
Make sure the notice provides the reason you are evicting.
The tenants will have those 10 days to pay rent. It’s a mistake to pressure them during that time. Wait and see what happens. If they catch up with rent, you can move on. If they don’t, you can go to the courthouse and file for a formal eviction.
Taking Illegal Eviction Actions
It’s frustrating when you want your tenants out but you’re stuck waiting for the legal green light to change the locks and move on with your life. You cannot, however, take matters into your own hands.
One of the worst mistakes you can make while evicting your tenants is to do something illegal, such as changing the locks on your own.
You have to remain professional and you have to follow the legal process when you’re evicting. This means that you cannot change the locks and refuse to give your tenants the new keys. You cannot move all of their stuff out to the curb and kick them out yourself. You cannot have the water or the lights shut off. You cannot show up at the property to confront them.
Follow the legal process. It’s the only way to remove them from your property without getting in legal trouble yourself. If you know yourself well enough to know that there’s a chance you’ll become emotional or angry, have an attorney or a property manager handle the eviction for you.
Not Being Prepared for Court
Assuming you have not been able to collect the overdue rent from your tenants and they have not moved out voluntarily, you’ll be given a court date. When that court date arrives, you might be so eager or anxious that you forget to prepare properly for it.
When you finally have the opportunity to show up in court and tell the judge why your tenants should be evicted, always be ready. It’s a mistake to just show up and expect the court to trust your word. You need to bring copies of:
- Your lease agreement
- Your 10 Day Notice and proof it was lawfully served
- Any other correspondence regarding overdue rent
- Your accounting ledger that shows unpaid rent accounts
- A copy of your Summons and Complaint
Be ready to demonstrate that you have exhausted every process for getting your tenants to come into compliance and pay the rental amount. When you follow the law to the letter, you’ll get the outcome you want.
It’s a Mistake to Evict Alone
Get professional help when you need to evict.
We hammer this point home a lot, but that’s because working with a Philadelphia property manager or an experienced eviction attorney will make such a big difference in the process of removing a tenant. You’ll avoid all the common mistakes, and do a better job of protecting yourself and your property.
Document everything that leads you to the point that you decide it’s time to evict. Then, turn the file over to a professional who understands the process and has been here before. Your eviction will be shorter, less costly, and far less stressful.
If you’d like some help, we’re here to provide all the resources and advice we can. Please contact us at McSherry Property Management. We work with investors of all experience levels in the greater Philadelphia metro area as well as surrounding suburban areas in Montgomery, Chester, Burlington, and Delaware County, to the Delaware River.