Tenant eviction is an unpleasant process, which can result in problems for both the tenant and the landlord. For that reason, it must be handled with care, and landlords must do their best to make sure that everything is in order before starting the eviction process.
This is especially true for landlords of homes or condos who do not use a real estate agent or a property management company. You might not be aware of the laws concerning tenant eviction, and accidentally make a mistake that could instigate a lawsuit or other unpleasant retaliation by the tenant.
To make sure that you have all your bases covered, following is a tenant eviction checklist.
Tenant Eviction Checklist #1: Paper Trail
Make sure, before you even start the eviction process, that you have documented every event that has led you to the decision to evict the tenant. Non-payment of rent, broken lease terms, damage to your property and other incidents should be dated and detailed on paper and kept on file.
Tenant Eviction Checklist #2: Notice
Give your tenant notice as soon as you have decided to evict, and state clearly why the eviction is taking place. Deliver the eviction notice in person, or have it delivered by certified mail so that you know (and have proof) that it has been received.
Tenant Eviction Checklist #3: Inspect the Property
Tenants who receive eviction notices are typically angry, and may decide to damage the property before moving out. Schedule a walk-through with the tenant just prior to his or her eviction date (give 24-hour notice) and make sure that there isn’t significant damage to the property.
Tenant Eviction Checklist #4: Security Deposit
There should be a provision in your lease agreement that states that in the event of eviction, the security deposit is forfeited. If not, determine whether or not the security deposit will be returned, and if not, mail a thorough description of why it is being withheld.
Tenant Eviction Checklist #5: Police
If you are concerned about your own safety, or if you have been threatened, it may be a good idea to have a police constable with you when you deliver the eviction notice. The police officer can help mediate any anger the tenant might express, and will keep you safe from any harm that might otherwise have happened.
Tenant Eviction Checklist #6: Time from Notice
States differ on the amount of time required from notice of eviction to required vacancy. While some states give the tenant thirty days to move out, others require only 72 hours between notice and vacancy.
Tenant Eviction Checklist #7: Laws
Make sure that your eviction notice complies with applicable eviction laws. If you fail to follow the law when it comes to eviction, it might become invalidated.
Tenant Eviction Checklist #8: Walk-Through
After your tenant has vacated the property, perform another walk-through and note any damages. You might also want to bring a camera and takes pictures of the damages for court, if it comes to that. You are allowed to charge an evicted tenant for damage as long as it is documented.