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How to Evict a Tenant Without Losing Your Mind

Paula Pant
3 min read

Today we’re going to talk about that subject that no one likes to discuss.

It’s the topic that no one even likes to think about.

It’s so miserable that, well, we would all feel better if we pretended that it didn’t exist.

I’m talking, of course, about evictions.

One of the sad realities of being a landlord is that no matter how well you perform your tenant screening, and no matter how good of a manager you are, there is always a chance that you might have to evict one of your tenants. This sucks.  There is no gentle way to say it. It just totally sucks. The media unfairly portrays landlords as being greedy, heartless misers. But in reality, the vast majority of us are compassionate human beings who hate to put our tenants out on the street.

As a human being, on a purely emotional level, we feel their pain. But we also have mortgages to pay.  We have tax bills and insurance bills and repair and maintenance costs and management fees. We just can’t allow people to live in our houses for free.  Besides, if we did allow that, we would be unfair to all of those hardworking tenants who pay their rent in full and on time.

What reasons might you have for evicting your tenant? Failure to pay the rent is one of the most common reasons, but in addition you can evict your tenant for:

  • Destroying the property
  • Violating the law (for example, if you suspect that your tenant is selling illegal drugs from the property)
  • Disturbing other tenants (for example, if the tenant is frequently throwing loud parties)
  • Hosting unauthorized tenants or sub-tenants (for example, if only two people are on the lease but there seem to be eight people living there)

What should you do if you have to endure an eviction?  Here is my three step process for how to evict a tenant.

1. Learn the Landlord Tenant Laws in Your State on How to Evict a Tenant

Pretend that you are back in high school or college, and you’re about to take a massive final exam in which you will be quizzed on every detail of your state’s landlord tenant law.  Study it with that degree of discipline and scrutiny. You should have done this already, by the way.  If you’re a landlord, you should know your state’s landlord tenant laws like the back of your hand. But take a moment to review this carefully so you can make sure that you don’t make any missteps.

2. Document, Document, Document

Over-document everything.  Take photos, take videos, make duplicate copies of every form.  Send everything through certified mail, and make copies of all of the confirmations.  Backup all of your data into a cloud service like DropBox, so that in case your hard drive crashes, you can still access all your records.

3. Ask Landlords in Your Area to Recommend a Good Eviction Company

In many cities across the U.S., you’ll find companies that specialize in handling evictions.  These are referred to as eviction service companies.  They are incredibly knowledgeable about the eviction process and local eviction laws. They also often tend to have close relationships with the police marshals and the sheriffs in your locality.  After all, this is what they do, all day, every day. They can handle the service for you, so that you can make sure that everything is being processed “by the book.”

You don’t want a judge to throw out your eviction because of some type of “i” you didn’t dot or “t” you didn’t cross.

Local real estate investors in your area should be able to recommend an eviction company that they’ve worked with before, so ask around.  If you don’t know any local investors, Google the name of your state plus the words “real estate investor’s association,” or Google the name of your city or state plus the words “eviction services companies.” Yes, you can handle the eviction yourself, but remember that you’re dealing with a highly regulated legal proceeding.

If you overlook some small detail regarding the proper procedure and format, then the eviction might not be granted.  You’ll have to start the process over again, and that will take up even more time. And when you’re not receiving the rent money, that time is incredibly expensive. Furthermore, using an eviction service company will spare you from many, many hours of frustration, headaches, and anxiety.  I would gladly give somebody a few hundred dollars in order to substantially increase my peace-of-mind.

The bottom line is that evictions are never fun.  They stink for both parties; the landlord and the tenant. But using a professional eviction services company can help you minimize both your risk and your frustration.  

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.