When Eviction Is Necessary
Landlord: "You've got to be kidding me. The police are called out to my tenants house nearly every weekend due to noise complaints. I'm so tired of this. What are my options?" Tenant: "My landlord told us we need to move because he plans to rent out his property to a family member. We've only been here for five months and haven't done anything to justify eviction. Yet his harassment has my wife in tears several times each week. We are miserable. What should we do?
These are just two common examples. The number of horror stories regarding evictions, from the perspective of both tenants and landlords, are as varied as they are seemingly endless. Many states, in response, continue to fine tune their laws to make the process more fair to both landlords and tenants. That being said, eviction laws differ from state to state and sometimes from county to county within a state. The best course of action is to screen prospective tenants as carefully as possible. Yet, tenant screening is predictive, not prophetic. Even the best of tenants may default on their rent if they've lost their jobs. If so, eviction may become a necessity.
What Are Some of the Most Common Reasons for Eviction?
- Rent is regularly late, sporadically paid, only partially paid each month, or just not paid.
- Illegal activity has been occurring in or on the property.
- Destructive to the property and/or having created health/safety hazards in and on the property
- Non-compliance with rules regarding noise, adding tenants, pets
- Threaten the safety of the landlord
- The tenant(s) have not been compliant with the terms of the lease agreement.
What Should A Landlord Know Re: Evictions?
- Aware - Be observant. Nip problems in the butt. Be firm and consistent on the rules of your lease agreement.
- Know - What are the current eviction laws in your state? What specifics are in your lease agreement re: eviction?
- Confirm - Are the reasons given for eviction (a) factual, (2) legally justifiable, and (3) provable?
- Negotiate - Can the complaint(s) be resolved 'nicely' without going to court?
- Ultimatum - If 'nice' fails, a legally worded, 'notice of eviction' must be given.
- File - Go to the appropriate courthouse to file and schedule a hearing. Bring proof that 'notice of eviction' was delivered.
- Court - Make sure all the necessary documents are in order and let the facts substantiate your eviction request.
- Evict - Carefully follow all local laws in order to carry out the eviction.
- Result - Make sure it is cost effective to file, if necessary, a separate small claims lawsuit to recover past rent.
What Should A Tenant Know Re: Evictions?
- Comply - The judgment of the court will go against you if you have not lived up to the specifics of your lease agreement.
- Know- If you are facing eviction, understand your rights and the laws re: evictions in your state.
- Document - Keep accurate records as evidence against an unjust and unlawful eviction notice.
- Negotiate - If offered, be willing to work with your landlord to avoid the cost of court, a ruined credit rating, your name red flagged every time you try to rent someplace else, and/or, where legal, having your wages garnished.
- Respond - If at fault, don't allow yourself to react angrily at a justifiable 'notice of eviction' - that will only backfire.
- Court - If you end up in court, have all your documents in order. Don't 'wing it'. Be honest.
- Evicted - If the eviction judgment is against you, it can be handled the easy way or the hard way. Always choose to leave quickly without any acts of revenge.
- Debt - Depending on the reasons for your eviction, moving out may not be the end of it. Debts may need to be paid. Learn what they will be and attempt to settle them as quickly and as thoroughly as possible to avoid long-lasting consequences.
Landlords, Keep in Mind:
- Property management is primarily a business, not a ministry. Be professional.
- Tenants are people and even good people may fall on hard times. Be firm and consistent, balanced with a heart.
- Rental Agreements need to be legally accurate and sufficiently detailed so that the tenant is clear on their rights and the consequences of failure to comply with the lease.
- Evictions can be a costly process with no guarantee of full restitution of losses. Try to negotiate for a small loss rather than to end up with a much bigger loss. In other words, don't angrily pursue 'cutting off your nose to spite your face.'
- Eviction judgments can be legally carried out independent of children being in school or winter season despite myths to the contrary.
- During the eviction process a landlords responsibilities for the basic safety requirements of the property are not suspended.
- Many states have uniform residential landlord and tenant (URLTA) statute that gives all parties involved the confidence of consistent eviction guideline throughout their state. If not, what may be required in one county may not be required in another.
Landlords, It is Illegal to:
- Harass a tenant to get them to leave.
- Retaliate against a tenant with an eviction notice because they reported you for safety violations.
- Disconnect utilities to a non-paying tenant.
- Forcibly, bodily, remove a tenant from the premises.
- Change the locks in order to keep a tenant from entering.
- Remove a tenant's belongings prior to an eviction decision by the court and the waiting period
Note Re: Evictions in Texas
- Texas adopted Uniform Eviction Laws that went into effect on August 31, 2013.
- Specifics on the legal ramification of these new rules can be viewed on a YouTube available Webinar
- These new rules don't displace Texas Property rules regarding evictions
- A 'Notice of Eviction' must be given at least 3 days before filing eviction with the courts (Property Code 24.005) and include the name of each individual to be evicted, the deadline date, and the amount owed.
- The 'Notice of Eviction' may be hand delivered, but it seems wisest to have it delivered by certified mail so that proof of delivery is evident on the return receipt.
- After the required 3 day waiting period, file your eviction at the appropriate courthouse. The clerk will schedule the hearing within 10-21 days and will contact the tenant via a summons.
- During the hearing, be sure you have all the relevant documents.
- A 'Writ of Possession' is good for 60 days, yet there is a waiting period of 7 days after the tenant has received the court decision before the actual eviction can take place.
- If the tenant refuses to leave, contact the sheriffs department. Don't take matters into your own hands.
- You may still sue for back rent, damages, and other fees through the small claims court. Texas, as well as several other states, does not allow garnishing of wages in these cases. You should, though, contact the credit bureau and inform them of the judgment against your tenant - to protect future landlords/property management companies.
This article is not meant to be conclusive nor to be a substitute for qualified legal advice during an eviction. Be sure to check out the laws appropriate to your state and to find the appropriate attorney who can guide you through an eviction.
If you find any inaccuracies in this or other blog articles, please contact us immediately so that we may make any necessary corrections.