Tenant Eviction Checklist | Process Street Tenant Eviction Checklist – Process Street

Introduction:

The eviction process can take as long as 3-4 weeks to complete and costs property managers an average of $3,500 (up to $10,000). 

Evicting a troublesome tenant is never an appealing decision to make nor a pleasant process to go through. It is expensive, time-consuming and stressful.

If at all possible, it should be avoided by reasoning with the tenant and resolving the situation before legal proceedings. Unfortunately, this is not always realistic, in which case there is no other option but to move forward with the eviction. 

Having a clear tenant eviction process helps landlords and property managers ensure they are handling the situation in the most effective way possible while remaining in compliance with state laws.

Run this checklist every time you need to navigate the difficult path of tenant eviction and evaluate your screening process to minimize the risk of future evictions.

This template applies only to US eviction laws. If you are outside the US, be sure to review the country's own laws regarding tenant eviction.

Preparation:

"Before anything else, preparation is the key to success"

- Alexander Graham Bell

Record tenant details

Select reason for eviction

What exactly has forced you into the position of having to evict this particular tenant?

It's essential that you are able to clearly state what the reason is so you can verify it with eviction laws and make your life easier during court proceedings.  

  • 1
    Failing to pay rent
  • 2
    Violating the lease agreement (pets, subletting, illegal use, etc.)
  • 3
    Causing significant damage to the property
  • 4
    Breaking noise, occupancy, or health ordinances
  • 5
    Health or safety hazard caused by the tenant
  • 6
    Threatening the safety of the landlord
  • 7
    Other

Review local and state laws

Source: RentCafé

Some states including Florida, Texas, and Colorado are considerably more "landlord-friendly" than others like California and Arizona that favor the tenant.

Find out where your state is on the spectrum by using this nifty interactive map created by RentCafé. Which state you are in will make a big difference to how easily the eviction process can be completed in court. 

Before you present the tenant with a formal eviction notice, carefully review your landlord-tenant state laws until you feel sure about the validity of your case.

Familiarize yourself with the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA) which provides a detailed explanation of the legal side of the eviction process. At least 21 states have adopted the URLTA as the foundation for their state-specific laws. 

A brief overview of the 3 legal reasons (notice for terminations with cause) for evicting a tenant.

Hire a real estate attorney

It is highly recommended that you hire a real estate attorney to handle the bulk of the work, as they will help you understand the details of how you can ensure winning the case with as few headaches as possible. Find experienced real estate attorneys in your area

If you already have an attorney that you have worked with in the past, contact them, inform them of the situation, and begin putting a case together.

Determine type of termination notice

As mentioned in the video from the previous task, there 3 basic termination notice types for tenancies that landlords must refer to when terminating a tenant due to misbehavior. They are as follows:

  1. Pay Rent or Quit Notices: Most common type (these notices give tenants a few days (3-5 in most states) to pay the rent or move out.

  2. Cure or Quit Notices: Given when a tenant violates a term or condition of the lease agreement, such as a no-pets clause or the requirement to refrain from excessive noise. 

  3. Unconditional Quit Notices: The harshest of all. This orders the tenant to vacate the premises with no chance of correcting a lease agreement violation. These are allowed only when the tenant has:
    1. repeatedly violated a lease agreement clause
    2. paid rent late on more than one occasion
    3. seriously damaged the premises, or
    4. engaged in serious illegal activity on the premises

Try to reason with the tenant

If it looks like the law isn't entirely on your side or you do not want to spend the time and energy required for an eviction case, give the tenant a final chance resolve their issues and repair any damage that has been done. 

Meet up with them in a casual, public setting like a coffee shop or a park and have a heart-to-heart chat about the situation. If you are understanding towards their problems yet stern about your requirements, they may leave on their own accord and make both your lives much easier. After all, dealing with an eviction is a tremendous source of stress for both the tenant and the landlord. 

Consider their personality

If they do not want to leave, you still need to be tactful and professional throughout the eviction process. Understanding the personality of the tenant and taking it into consideration may seem irrelevant, but doing so will help you execute the eviction in the most effective way you can. 

Think about what kind of person they are, and deal with them in a thoughtful manner, especially if they are angry and/or experiencing significant struggles in their own life. 

If you are dealing with a tenant that you anticipate will fight till the bitter end, it's even more important that you satisfy all legal requirements and have an experienced attorney on your side.

Eviction notice:

Create formal eviction notice

Once you've established that you have the right to evict your tenant and that it is the only way to put an end to the problems they've created, it's time to create and issue an eviction notice that marks the beginning of legal proceedings. 

Ensure you are complying with state laws by using a state-specific eviction form template.

Another great source for eviction notice templates is RocketLawyer

Make four copies

Print 4 copies of the eviction notice so you can:

  • 1
    Post one on the property
  • 2
    Mail one using certified mail
  • 3
    Keep one for your records
  • 4
    Have one to give to the court

Issue the notice

The notice should be taped to their front door and sent via USPS Certified Mail.

Determine if court proceedings are necessary

Court proceedings:

Gather all relevant documentation

Before going to court, gather and organize all relevant documentation; ready to be handed over to your attorney.

These include: 

General documents:
  • 1
    Lease agreement
  • 2
    Your renter's licence (if required by your state)
  • 3
    Copy of the served eviction notice
  • 4
    Receipt from post office showing you used certified mail to send the eviction notice
Documents providing proof of the violation:
  • 1
    Printouts of email and text correspondence with the tenant
  • 2
    Banks statements/bounced checks highlighting the tenants rent payments
  • 3
    Written notices you have sent the tenant concerning any problems
  • 4
    Photographs of damages to the unit (if any)
  • 5
    Police reports detailing illegal activities on the property (if any)

Hand over documentation to your attorney

Before the court hearing, make sure your real estate attorney has all of the documentation you gathered in the previous task. These documents represent the key to a successful case.  

Attend the court hearing

Get a good night's sleep before your scheduled court date so that you are attentive and confident during the hearing. 

Always be honest and let your documentation/evidence speak for itself.

Move forward depending on the judge's decision

Evicting the tenant:

Oversee the tenant's move out

Good job! You went into court hearing well-prepared and won the case. 

The tenant will have a set amount of time to leave, anywhere from 48 hours to a week depending on your state. 

If the tenant doesn't leave on time, you have the right to get someone from the Sheriff's department to escort them out and place their possessions outside the property. This is obviously not the ideal outcome, but it does happen. 

Consider police presence 

If you believe the tenant poses a credible threat to your safety, you should contact your local police department, inform them of the situation and ask them to accompany you during the move-out process. 

Post-eviction procedures:

Conduct a property inspection

Take careful notes of the condition of the property. 

If there is any damage, take plenty of photos for your records and as evidence for reparations owed by the tenant.

Check out our pack of inspection checklists to help guide you through the inspection. 

Pay any fees owed to the tenant

You may need to pay the tenant's court costs (i.e. filing fees) and/or attorney fees (check lease agreement) now that they have won the case. 

Make sure you have fulfilled the judge's requirements and lease agreement clauses regarding compensating the tenant for costs related to the eviction process you initiated. 

Collect fees owed by the tenant

Based on the lease agreement or local law, the tenant may need to pay you: 

  • Court filing fees
  • Attorney fees
  • Unpaid rent
  • Damages and penalties

Work with your real estate attorney to ensure that these payments are made in full.

Preventing future evictions:

Evictions are costly, time-consuming processes that never pay off. In an ideal world, this is the first and last time you'll need to complete an eviction checklist. Unfortunately, that is rather unlikely, so it's worth thinking about what you can do to create a healthier, more trusting relationship with your tenants. 

Evaluate your screening process

There are steps you can take to minimize the risk of evictions, and it all starts with your tenant screening process

We've created a comprehensive tenant screening checklist that will guide you through all of the steps necessary for onboarding qualified individuals with a solid track record. 

Key areas to evaluate in your current process are credit reports and background checks. Are you using a reliable online property management tool like Cozy to run these checks? 

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