You’ve been through the process. You ran the credit reports and background checks, called their references, and your new tenant is still not great.
They might cause property damage, bring rowdy guests over all the time or ignore you when you try to collect their rent on time. They're all the reasons you would hate a lousy neighbor, but now your property and your income are at risk.
What do you do?
Eviction is the first thing that comes to mind, but that may seem a bit drastic. In many cases, eviction is a lengthy process that can take several months to resolve. While legal protections for tenants are important, the unfortunate downside is that real estate investors can be stuck with non-paying or damaging renters for longer than they’d like.
Before you go down that road, here are five other tricks that may rectify a tough situation with your tenant(s).
1. Improve Your Communication
Just like with any relationship, sometimes the best thing to do is rip the Band-Aid and discuss what's bothering you. This is especially true if the issues you are starting to notice have just begun. They could be having a bad week or month and need someone to give them a little break. You won't know until you ask.
The sooner you openly communicate with the tenant, the better your chances of a continuous positive relationship. If rent has consistently been late, open up a discussion about the financial struggles your tenants may be facing. While you are not responsible for their problems, you might be able to convey the seriousness of the situation better with a firm, honest talk.
2. Prepare Yourself
If you are worried that talking with your tenant will not work, then start preparing yourself for some questions they may have for you. Understand your lease, take a look at some of the ground rules you established when they moved in and determine if they are violating any safety or health codes.
Although it is ideal to have established good relations with tenants, sometimes that is not the case — so be as professional as possible. This will also help you if you decide to go to court for any reason.
Have questions regarding illegal substances? Take a look at some of the laws in place around your area and know the phone numbers for your local authorities.
3. Maintain Professionalism
When you are dealing with a situation that can get very serious very quickly, it is essential to take a deep breath from the beginning. It can be a very stressful process, but remember that everything you say to the tenant can — and most likely will — be used against you. Your responsibility as the property owner is to be as professional as possible.
Still unsure of what to do? Ask an expert! There are a ton of resources out there for you to check out to help you along in the process. You are not the only one who has gone through this, and many real estate investors have been in your shoes. Since you’re here, you’re off to a good start.
4. Follow Self-Help Eviction Laws
If you are someone who likes to do everything by themselves, this one is for you. Many techniques used under self-help eviction are illegal. Changing the locks on all tenant’s doors and attempting to physically force a tenant out can be punishable with some jail time.
It can be easier than you think to perform some of these more illegal tactics, especially if you personally do not like the tenant after they have moved in.
Again, many resources can help you determine how to get a proper court-ordered eviction notice and avoid self-help eviction temptations. Make sure you’re respecting local, state and federal laws whenever you interact with your tenants. If you do have to go down the eviction route, you want everything to look good on your end.
5. Pay Them Off to Move Out Quicker
This final tip may seem a little shady, but it happens — and many landlords find it less of a headache than eviction. Sometimes a tenant is so detrimental to the building that it would be cheaper to pay them off to get them out, so you don’t have to incur the financial burdens of the eviction process.
If you expect eviction to take several months and your tenants are amenable to the bribe, this might be the more cost-effective alternative. While it might not feel just, paying off your disruptive tenants will let you move on and find someone reliable sooner.
Explore All Your Options
Although it's very easy to think about the self-help method of kicking someone out, it's never the right way to go. Once you take a step back from the situation, you will be able to evaluate it and work to find a solution that will satisfy both parties.
About the Author: Holly Welles covers real estate topics for the up-and-coming renter or homeowner. She runs her own blog, The Estate Update, and can also be found dishing up advice over on Twitter @HollyAWelles.
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