Evicting a tenant is never a happy experience for landlords. Evictions are the last resort to get a delinquent tenant out of your home. Besides being a costly process, evicting someone will cost you valuable time and resources. Of course, sometimes you have no choice but to start an eviction procedure. But are evictions always necessary? And what exactly? to be the disadvantages of eviction?
There are some instances where evicting a tenant can actually be a bad idea. Given the time an eviction process takes and the costs involved, it makes sense to look for alternatives to evicting someone. For example, you can negotiate with some tenants to stay in the rental unit and make up for their arrears.
This article explores why it is sometimes best to look for alternatives to evicting a tenant. But first, let’s look at the real cost of evicting someone. Knowing how much eviction costs can be a powerful motivator to explore other ways to resolve rent arrears.
Being a landlord can be fun – if you do it right
No matter how good you are at finding good leases, you can lose everything if you don’t manage your properties properly. Being a landlord doesn’t have to mean midnight calls, expensive evictions, or daily frustrations with ungrateful tenants.
The costs of evicting a tenant
The true cost of evicting a tenant is more than just a financial loss. However, the financial costs can be serious. By some estimates, the total bill for obtaining an eviction notice from the courts can be as high as $4,000. Depending on the time it takes and the damage to your rental property, the costs can be even higher.
But there are other factors that come into play when evicting a tenant. Think about the time it takes – after all, time is money. It can take up to three months from the time you actually file an eviction notice at your local court to the time you obtain the necessary court order. And even if you file for eviction, there’s no guarantee the judge will rule in your favor.
Of course, it’s hard to put a price on the toll that evictions take on your stress level.
Unfortunately, when a tenant violates the lease, most landlords sooner or later have to file a lawsuit. If they have months of rent arrears, destroyed things, are constantly disturbing neighbors or have the police called, then it’s definitely a great idea to evict them.
Let’s look at some alternatives to evictions and when is the best time to negotiate with your tenants.
Good tenants can have a hard time
Sometimes it makes no sense to evict a good tenant if they are going through a rough patch. Maybe they lost their jobs or got huge unexpected medical bills and can afford to pay a few months’ rent. Of course, non-payment of rent is a violation of their lease. And technically, you have reasons to turn them off. But is it worth evicting a good tenant?
Suppose you have a tenant who takes care of the unit and historically has paid the rent in full and on time during the rental period. And say they get fired and can’t pay the rent, but are actively looking for a new job. In that case, you could also work out a flexible rent payment schedule until they’re back on their feet. Then you can negotiate a payment plan for them to pay the delinquent rent in full.
This can mean a financial blow in the short term. But given the costs of an eviction, filling a vacancy, and screening potential tenants, it may be better to keep a good tenant in the unit rather than evicting them.
Don’t forget to put a payment plan or rent payment schedule in writing and sign the document with the tenant.
The process can be costly
Sometimes it makes sense to postpone the eviction process if it becomes too expensive. In most cases, landlords must pay the legal fees associated with evicting a tenant. In addition, there can be an expensive cleanup after someone is removed from a rental unit. Even if you can claim compensation, there is no guarantee of success.
What can you do to avoid evicting someone? One solution is a ‘cash for keys’ scheme. Why not offer to pay the tenant to move? If a tenant is in financial trouble, the prospect of a lump sum to look for a new place may sound tempting. It is also in their best interest to avoid an eviction. After all, tenants with an eviction history find it a challenge to find a new landlord.
Suppose you calculate that an eviction costs more than $4,000. Why not offer the tenant $1,000 to move? Although it seems paradoxical to give money to someone who owes something you money, it might be a better idea than an expensive eviction.
Evictions Can Put You In Legal Hot Water
It’s always a bad idea to evict a tenant if you don’t have legal grounds. In general, tenants can stay in a rental property for as long as the lease allows them, assuming, of course, that they follow the terms of the agreement and applicable law. So, before starting eviction proceedings, it is crucial to make sure that the law is on your side.
Here are a few scenarios when evicting a tenant is a bad idea:
Suppose the tenant has lodged a complaint about you with the housing authority, for example about safety issues or maintenance issues, whether valid or not. It is never advisable to evict someone just because you didn’t like what they were doing. If you file an eviction within six months of a tenant making a formal complaint, a judge may consider the eviction retaliation (and even you to pay something, instead of the tenant).
You can never evict someone based on race, religion, family situation, gender, color, national origin or sexual orientation. For example, you can’t evict a couple because you find out the woman is pregnant, and you don’t want a crying baby disturbing the neighbors.
Tenants may legally withhold rent or any portion of it until you resolve a health or safety issue in the building or rental unit. In that case you cannot evict them because of non-payment of the rent.
Accept partial rent payments
If you receive a partial payment of rent arrears, it may be a bad idea to evict them. This is because by accepting partial payment you may have waived your right to evict that tenant. If you’ve already applied for eviction, tempting as it may be, don’t accept a partial rent payment; otherwise, you may have to restart the entire eviction process.
These are just some of the situations where it might be a bad idea to evict a tenant. You may be able to create a payment plan to keep good, responsible tenants in your rental unit. Offering a “keys for cash” deal often helps avoid the stress and expense of filing an eviction. However, if you decide to pursue an eviction, always check the law to make sure you have a legal basis for evicting a delinquent tenant.
More about evictions from Pyjama People