Eviction Mistakes Landlords Make
Many of us have learned the hard way when it comes to evicting a tenant that some actions can hurt us as landlords more than help us. Evictions are always stressful, and to the less experienced landlord, they can also be confrontational and traumatic. In times like this it is easy to make mistakes and think with our emotions rather than with logic and knowledge.
Below are some common eviction mistakes made by landlords of all ages everywhere. If you're inexperienced, don't feel bad- many of these goofs are also done by those of us who know better!
- Waiting too long
Possibly the most expensive mistake of all evictions is when the landlord waits too long to start legal action.
There are many reasons this happens
- Denial: You just can't believe the tenant's excuse isn't real! They'd never lie to you. They said they'll have it next week and you believe them.
- Fear: You've heard horror stories about evictions. Evictions are bad and you never want to have to go through that!
- Procrastination: (Another word for fear, btw) You don't want to spend money on evicting because if you just wait a little longer, the tenant may come through with his promise... besides you don't know what the next step is... because you've procrastinated learning about evictions!
- Constructive Eviction Turning off the utilities:
All too often, landlords find themselves in an even bigger mess because they turn off the utilities in an attempt to make the tenant leave. Even though the tenant may not be paying for the utilities or the rent, constructive eviction is illegal in all states
- Improper Notice to Terminate
One way to lengthen an eviction is by starting it wrong from the start. Knowing how and when to give a termination of tenancy notice makes a very important difference.
The LPA's State by State Notice Period Chart on is a helpful reference to determine the proper amount of days notice needed to cure the default for non payment of rent when serving a Notice to Pay Rent or Quit form or to give a general Notice to Terminate Tenancy.
- Partial Payments - Being strung along by excuses.
It is very common for landlords to be forced into the situation of accepting partial payments and a variety of excuses at rent payment time. Whether the excuses are true or not is not the issue. The bottom line is the rent is still not paid as agreed. Professional landlords and management companies have a process for situations like this. It is called eviction. They begin it after a certain day the late rent has gone beyond.
- Allowing Tenant Unlimited Personal Access to Owner
Many inexperienced landlords are under the belief that it is best for their tenants to be able to reach them on their cell phone, email or home phone at any time of day or night. Can this line of communication be abused? Yes and it is more often than not.
During an eviction, matters can heat up between the parties, becoming antagonistic and often degenerate far worse that they should have, had lines of communication been more professional.
- Failing to have a professional Eviction Attorney or other Eviction professional
Many experienced landlords have learned to have professionals on hand to do certain jobs properly quickly and efficiently. Some landlords have the time available to learn eviction law themselves and do their own evictions. I always remember what a judge said while I was in court years ago when an attorney was representing himself on a personal matter. "A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client." All too often, I've seen a harsh attitude between the judge (who is a lawyer) and the inexperienced private landlord representing himself. The judge either rules in the tenant's favor or may kindly advise the landlord to "come back when you have a lawyer."
How to Select a Good Eviction Attorney
- Improper Entry of Rental Unit by Landlord
This is another way some landlords get themselves in trouble during an eviction. Almost all evictions involve a certain amount of hostility and most attorneys and even police will tell the landlord not to enter the rental unit unless it is an emergency. If the owner suspects abandonment of the rental, and has waited a reasonable period of time and made all reasonable attempts at contacting the tenant, entry must still be done very carefully. Some landlords bring along a police officer or other witness to be on the safe side.
- Not Knowing Your State's Landlord Tenant Laws
To survive in the landlord business, it is imperative to have a basic understanding of your State Landlord and Tenant Laws
- Being Unprepared Not Having the proper Landlord Protection Forms and Notices
From the very beginning, landlords can set a better tenancy in motion by using the proper paperwork and leases along with a good Lease Lease Enforcement forms, Collection forms.
A successful court eviction is usually one with decent documentation of a lease agreement with protection for the landlord. Eviction documentation also includes records such as late notices, demands for payment, lease violations and other related paperwork to substantiate the landlord's position. See Essential Landlord Forms to look over some of these helpful tools.
- Telling the tenant they will get NO Security Refund
This is a mistake, since most courts classify security deposits for damages only and not to be dispersed towards rent during an eviction proceeding. Tenants will be advised by their own or their court appointed attorney that they have every right to their security deposit refund in full unless legitimate deductions can properly be made after the tenant vacates. In case where the tenant thinks they may have a security deposit refund coming even though they are being evicted, can make a positive difference in the condition or the rental when it is finally returned.
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