DIY Landlord Tips: Evicting a Tenant with Heart
When you do have to evict someone, you do it with heart.
Make no mistake: evicting a tenant is hard. It takes an emotional toll on you, even if you didn’t have the best relationship with the tenant in the first place. The number of times that the head of our Evictions Department has almost been in tears herself while on the phone with some desperate mother sobbing into the phone about her babies not having a roof over their heads…well, once is too many times. But there are some things that you can do to make sure that, when you do have to evict someone, you do it with heart.
Far and away the worst thing that you can do when evicting a tenant is not tell them what is happening. You should be sending letters, emailing, texting, calling, stopping by in person, emoting psychic vibrations, requesting divine intervention, and sending smoke signals — any way you can think of to make 100% sure they know that they owe money, that you’re willing to work things out with them, that you’re setting a court date, that you’ve had your court date, that the bailiff is coming — every step of the process should be as obvious to them as possible.
Provide Information on Emergency Options
In many municipalities, the bailiff who does the eviction will come prepared with information on emergency shelter and other options for the newly evicted — but that’s not something that you should count on. It’s wise to familiarize yourself with the resources that a displaced tenant might need in the first place. Writing those resources up in the form of a “here’s how you can help yourself’ document and sending it out with your ‘I’ve requested a court date’ letter serves the dual purpose of being good karma and also really driving home the point that ignoring this letter means becoming homeless.
Be Prepared for The Call
Any time you have a bailiff out to evict someone from one of your homes, you should be at the phone (or have someone who works for you at the phone) and be ready to answer. Sometimes, you’ll learn something that might change everything at the last second. For example, what if you get a call from a new mother with a six-week-old who had no idea that her piece-of-trash boyfriend was gambling away their money and lying to her that he was paying the rent and hiding all the mailed notices?
They may be lying, but you may want to give her more time to pay or find another place to move to.
In the end, those moments are part of what makes evictions so hard: because you know that you’re about to make someone’s life really difficult, but you never can truly know that they deserve it. That’s why it’s worth the little bit of time and effort it takes to put a little bit of heart into it.