You have taken in a residential tenant who seemed very organized and law-abiding, but a few months down the line, they start missing rent payments. What do you do?
- Try to remove them from the rental property forcibly.
- Cut off utilities like gas and water in the hopes that the tenant will get the idea and leave the premises.
Well, neither of these solutions is legal, and they certainly will not get you the most desirable outcome.
The advisable way to deal with such an issue is by following the landlord and tenant laws. These are the laws governing the process to be followed when either the landlord or the tenant is not fulfilling their end of the agreement. Be aware that this law is relevant to residential landlord/tenant law and there may be different practices with respect to commercial evictions.
But, how do you follow the law in dealing with delinquent tenants and those who are always late on rental payments?
Well, it is as simple as hiring a competent eviction attorney. Here, is why it is important to hire a landlord lawyer to deal with such issues.
1. The Landlord Lawyer will help you draft the eviction notice.
When a tenant stops paying their rent on time, the only viable legal option you have is to start an eviction suit. Unfortunately, this is a process that can take anywhere between 1-4 months or longer depending on the situation. If the tenant has defaulted on rent payments for several months before you file, you will be looking at months of missed rental payments which you cannot recover.
When you start the court process, the court will demand to know whether you served the tenant with an eviction notice. There are three types of notices that your attorney can help you draft:
• The pay-or-quit eviction notice
This notice asks the tenant to pay the rent owed or leave the property. If the tenant does not respond within five days of the notice, you will win the case by default, and you are within legal right to evict them.
• Cure or quit eviction notice
This notice shows that a tenant has breached the lease in one way or another, mostly by refusing to pay rent. The tenant is supposed to pay the money owed or leave. This notice gives your tenant three days to respond, after which you are allowed to take the necessary legal action.
• The unconditional quit notice
If you are considering closing down the rental apartments altogether for other reasons, your attorney will help draft an unconditional quit notice. In this case, the lawyer will give your tenants 90 days to look for other houses and move out.
The landlord-tenant lawyer is the expert who will look at the situation and determine the best type of notice to serve your tenants.
2. The Lawyer will Recommend Other Solutions
Going to court might be the only legal way to get a stubborn tenant who has refused to meet their rental obligations to leave. However, it is not the only way out. Another way that you can resolve the stalemate is by paying the tenant to leave.
Paying someone who has already defaulted on rental payments may seem like a strange thing to do, but it helps in some cases.
Eviction processes are long, and if you need your property to stop incurring losses, your lawyer can help you get into a ‘cash for keys’ agreement. Here you will pay the delinquent tenant a certain amount, and the tenant will agree to leave without suing you.
Note that the three month eviction time can vary from one jurisdiction to another. Your lawyer will help you understand how long the process takes in your locality. Together, you will agree on whether it is more sensible to explore other options.
3. The Lawyer will Prevent the Recurrence of The Same Situations
A good landlord learns from their mistakes. If you have a tenant that has refused to move and you are making losses, it means that you made a mistake in the process of letting the tenant in. Some possible mistakes you may have made include:
- Not having a watertight lease agreement
- Failing to do a proper background check on the tenants
- Not checking the tenant’s credit report
- Allowing tenants who did not qualify in good faith
After the tenant eviction process, you can sit down with your lawyer and look at the documents that you had drafted before. If the lawyer feels that they need editing, the lawyer will help with the process.
They will also put in place measures to ensure you properly vet future tenants to avoid a similar problem.
4. The Lawyer will Mediate Talks with the Tenant
In most landlord and tenant eviction cases, going to court should always be the last option. Other options that you should explore before getting to the eviction include talking with the tenant and looking for an amicable agreement.
In most rental situations, you find that the tenants push the boundaries when they think they can. If you have been dealing directly with the clients, and you feel that they think you are a pushover, the eviction lawyer will help reestablish ground rules. The lawyer will let the tenants know that if they cannot pay rent on time, they have to leave.
5. The Lawyer will offer Assistance with the Court Eviction Process
The eviction process is slow, and it can get very complicated. If this is your first eviction, and the tenant has already lawyered up, you will also need the guidance of a competent attorney. Your lawyer will assess the entire case and build a solid defense for you.
A different situation where an eviction lawyer will be necessary is when the person you are trying to evict is your property manager. You may also need a lawyer if the tenant has filed for bankruptcy, or are in the process of doing it. Finally, if your tenant’s rent is subsidized by a government plan, evicting that tenant will need a competent lawyer.
The Bottom Line
As unfair as it sounds, most laws that govern landlord-tenant relationships favor the tenant. If you want to win a case and avoid losses over delinquent tenants, you will need a competent tenant lawyer.
If you are looking for a fast solution to evict a tenant who does not pay on time, contact us today. Our attorneys will provide a quick assessment of your situation and practical legal solutions should you decide to take us on as counsel.