The time has come that you want to part ways with your tenants. How do you do it and what things should you be careful of? How much notice do you give them? Can you do things in a way that will avoid upsetting your tenant and causing them to damage your property before moving? Can you walk up to the door of the unit to have a conversation with them?
First thing is the amount of notice you give them. This depends on the reason for terminating the relationship. If you are just doing a no-cause notice to vacate then you can give them a 30-day notice, if they have paid rent for less than 12 months. 60-days if they have lived there for more than 12 months. If this is a non-payment of rent situation then you are able to give them a 72-hour non-payment of rent notice on the 8th day of the month (assuming your rent is due on the 1st). This gives the tenant 72 hours to vacate or pay their rent. If your tenant threatens your safety or breaks the law while on the property then you may be able to give a 24-hour notice of eviction. Be careful with this one though and make sure that you are able to prove the violation. For most other lease violations you can give them a 14/30 notice. This is a notice that gives the tenant 14 days to cure the lease violation in a manner that is agreeable to the landlord or 30 days to move out.
If the tenants have not become hostile yet then I would suggest that when you give one of these notices you either call the tenant beforehand or do it in person and try to have a conversation with the tenant at the same time. Keep in mind that the main goal is to get the tenant to move out. When you post a notice of eviction for a cause you can accomplish a lot by having a conversation with the tenant. Keep in mind that it is perfectly legal for you to do a “knock and talk”. That is you are allowed, without prior notice, to walk up the normal pathway to the front door to knock on it and try to talk with the tenants. Obviously be careful to stay on the natural path to the front door, don’t look inside any windows, and don’t walk around the property if you haven’t given notice. When you talk to the tenant let them know that you have no choice but to post this notice. Although if they are able to get moved out prior to the notice expiring or even prior to the initial hearing if you have to file an eviction, that you will drop the eviction. 90% of our evictions end on a positive note in this way. Ultimately we get what we want in that the tenant moves out without causing any additional trouble and sooner than if they fight it and we have a trial. They get the added benefit of not ending up with an eviction on their record which could cause them to be denied at the next place they try to rent or pay much higher security deposits.
The reason that you want to have this conversation while still posting the necessary notice is that you want to reserve your right to evict them as soon as possible if they don’t follow through on their side of the agreement. The majority of landlords have heard the “promises” and sob stories. If you still post the notice, but let them know that an eviction won’t end up on their record if they can follow through, then the ball is in their court and if they fail to follow through you haven’t lost any time and can still evict them as soon as possible.
The eviction process is much like getting a traffic ticket in that there is an initial hearing to see if you and the tenants can come to an agreement; and then there is a trial if no agreement can be made. The best thing that you can do is reach an agreement at the initial hearing. The reason is that the judge will make that stipulated agreement part of his judgement. In entering this agreement with you and the court the tenants are waiving their right to a trial. So if they fail to follow through on their end you are able to file some paperwork at the courthouse and get your FED judgement. If you are evicting a tenant and part of the agreement is that if they follow through you will actually allow them to continue living at the residence then you can add to that agreement that they pay their rent on time. Most judges will allow you to require this for up to 6 months. This is a very good thing to add to that agreement as it makes it so that you can skip the hearing and trial and just evict them on grounds of violating their stipulated agreement if they fail to pay their rent on time.
The last bit of advice I can give is to never make it personal. Keep in mind that even if they live in a property you own that this is just business. Don’t get sucked into arguments with the tenant and stick to the facts at all times. Always remember that your end goal is not to punish the tenant, but to get possession of your property back as quickly as possible with as little damage as possible. So be prepared to offer the tenant something (like dropping the eviction case) if it means they will move out sooner than later and without a fight.
Good luck with your next eviction!
President of IRC Enterprises