Estate Agents Tip: Six Ways to Keep Your Cool During the Eviction Process
Let’s face it – after you have received the rent and security deposit, and turned over the keys to the apartment, how often do you want to have to interact with your tenant? Only once a month, I bet, to collect the rent, more often if there is a problem in the unit. Believe me, I bet that’s the only time your tenant wants to see you too, to give you the rent, or to call for a repair. Most tenants want to be left alone in their apartment; most landlords want to be left alone except when rent time comes around.
So, an eviction by nature, is a traumatic experience for both parties. Someone could lose their home. Tempers will flare; stress will exist for the entire period of the lawsuit. Both landlord and tenant will go through a myriad of personality changes as the case progresses. Keeping your cool as the homeowner during the eviction process is very important. A cool head and a calm attitude could help prevent you from saying or doing things that could come back and bite you in court.
By the time you have made the decision to evict your tenant, many unpleasant things have probably occurred. Not only are you frustrated, you are probably very angry that you have been forced to go through the eviction process. You have probably tried to work with the person or family several times before you came to the conclusion that it was time for the landlord and tenant relationship to come to an end. But, the tenant will not leave on his or her own. This will make you angry, a natural response from one who has invested years of mortgage payments on the property.
Look at an impending eviction as a rite of passage that every landlord will experience at least once in the lifetime of owning property. It should be done with objectivity and not emotion. You should not want to evict a tenant because you are “tired of looking at him”, or because every time the two of you talk, he or she grates on your nerves.
Just because the two of you are in business together, it doesn’t mean you have to like one another. The tenant, regardless of all the other things about him or her, is helping to pay your mortgage and bills. An eviction is too expensive to use as a way to get rid of someone who is aggravating to you. Of course, if the tenant’s behavior is more than aggravating, or bordering on chronic harassment, then eviction must be considered.
Your tenant is supposed to pay the rent, follow the lease, leave other people alone, obey the law, and keep up the apartment and the common areas. Your responsibility as a homeowner is to collect the rent and use it to ‘cut the grass’, pay the property expenses, maintain the property, and make sure everyone follows the lease. This really is the extent of your relationship with each other.
1. The first thing a homeowner should remember is: Do not to expect your tenant to like you. Owning housing is not a popularity contest. You are the person with whom they have to interact at least once a month to conduct business. Unlike paying the car note or a credit card, they may have to see you to pay their rent, in most cases. Don’t be upset if the tenant is curt or short with you because you ask for the rent. Be concerned if the rent is not paid on time. Do write down any conversation you have with the tenant regarding promises made, or payment plans put in writing by the tenant.
2. Second, never lose your temper with a tenant. There will be times when a tenant will make a request or series of requests that will drive you crazy. A tenant may ask you, for example, to replace a $3.00 kitchen sink stopper. A tenant may give you a sarcastic or nasty response to your request for the rent. If you are having a bad day, you may say or do something you will later regret. The tenant, to your detriment in court, could repeat that nasty comment said in the heat of anger. Keep a professional demeanor when dealing with your tenants.
3. Keep your perspective during the eviction. It’s not personal, it’s not life or death, just a legal business process. Depending on the reason, an eviction could take weeks, if not months until it is completed. You will still have to interact with your tenant throughout the case. It doesn’t make sense to be rude or offensive during that time period. If you spend all of your eviction time angry, it will be a long case.
4. The third thing to remember is to separate your personal life from that of the tenant. This means that you should keep to your business, which is the management of your property, and out of the tenant’s personal business. This could be difficult if you have rented your apartment to a personal friend or relative. If you have, understand that you will have established two distinct relationships, one personal, and one business, all rolled up into this one tenancy. You may lose your friend as well as a tenant by the end of the legal action.
5. Make sure the eviction is based on professional, not personal reasons. For example, your tenant is late every month paying the rent. One month, you notice that the tenant has bought a brand new car, latest edition, with a sunroof. You become angry that the tenant can’t seem to pay the rent on time each month, but apparently he or she has the money to purchase a brand new car. You get even angrier at the thought that this tenant will probably pay their car note on time, but will still pay your rent late.
6. It’s none of your business how many cars your tenant buys, or how he or she can afford new furniture. It is your business to collect the rent on time each month. If you send an eviction notice each time that the tenant is late paying the rent, perhaps he or she will make different decisions about prioritizing their bills. If you make rent collection your priority, you will not become angry or obsessed about the new items your tenant buys. Keep to your business as a homeowner every month, and what the tenant purchases won’t matter much to you in the long run.
In summary, the eviction process is one part of the business of owning real estate. It is not a popularity contest, but a series of decisions, fact-findings, written and/or video documentation, and the implementation of state laws, all of which have to be presented before a judge. Keep your emotions out of it, keep to the letter of the Law, and your eviction case will have a good chance of being won.
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