DIY Landlord Tips: When to Send an Eviction Notice to a Tenant
The reality of evicting an unexpectedly difficult tenant might take the lord out of your landlording.
When you’re a property management company dealing with lots of tenants, you see patterns in tenant behavior in general, and you quickly learn how to best respond to these patterns. As a DIY landlord only dealing with a few tenants, it’s easy to miss these patterns and cost yourself money.
When to Send an Eviction Notice
From the perspective of dealing with evictions, the correct answer is “every time they miss a payment deadline.” We talked in our last post a bit about how the decision will affect your relationship with your tenants, and that’s something you’ll have to take into account. When it comes to the worst-case scenario, however, you always want to have the option of taking things to the next level as quickly as possible. Remember, every month you wait to send that notice is a month’s rent you may never see if a tenant is uncollectible. If things get that far, rest assured any efforts you made to save your relationship with that tenant were wasted.
Keep in mind that sending an eviction notice keeps you in control of the situation. Most people are used to getting something in the mail or a phone call if their past due on their car or credit card. An eviction notice is no different.
When to Follow Through on an Eviction Notice
Most tenants (and many DIY landlords!) don’t realize that just sending (or getting) an eviction notice doesn’t actually mean that the eviction will necessarily happen. You can rescind the eviction right up until they announce the case in court — all the more reason to be quite free to send the notices out. Just beware that you do have to follow through within a reasonable timeframe; if you send out a 3-day pay-or-quit notice and then don’t do anything to enforce it for three weeks, you run the risk of a judge ruling that you have to start over (and lose out on any rent you should have collected in the interim).
Generally speaking, though, you should follow through on any eviction wherein the tenant doesn’t make a concerted effort to set things right after receiving the notice. In almost every case where the tenant is genuinely having an emergency situation where they literally can’t follow up with you, the story will come out in court and you can graciously allow them time to fix it.
In the end, while the policy of ‘always follow through in terms of moving the eviction process along can come across as heartless to those who don’t really understand how it works, the truth is quite different. The law is generally arranged in favor of the tenant as long as they’re not actually screwing you over, so moving things forward only hurts them if they deserve it — but not moving things forward hurts you whether you deserve it or not. So, let’s talk next time about how you can evict someone without being a heartless jerk about it.
Image courtesy of Cottonbro