10 Invaluable Lessons I Learned From My Very First Tenant Eviction

by | BiggerPockets.com

If you are serious about buy and hold real estate investing, you will experience an eviction sometime within your career. It’s not a matter of if but when you will need to legally remove a tenant from your property. The process is not pretty. Below is the story of my first official eviction.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget how I felt that spring morning. It was a feeling that could only be compared to the excitement, anxiety and nervousness that typically comes with the  first day of school. Four and a half years after purchasing my first rental property, it was actually happening. This was a coming of age moment in my investing career: I was finally about to experience my first official eviction.
To be blunt, the eviction process is awful. Beyond the obvious loss of revenue and the additional legal costs, evictions take a major toll on you and your business. I had an idea of what my first eviction might be like — but like many things in life, the only way to truly understand something is to experience it for yourself.
As the wounds of my first eviction begin to heal, I’ve reflected on the ordeal to identify 10 key lessons that will help my business prepare for the future.
Disclaimer: I am writing about a specific instance that happened in the county of Erie in New York State. Your situation may or may not be similar. I highly recommend you learn as much as you can about the eviction process in your specific market(s). Try to get a first hand account from an investor who has had a recent eviction. Laws and procedures change. It’s best to get a fresh perspective. 

Related: 6 Reasons All Landlords HATE Having to Evict a Tenant

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10 Lessons Learned From My First Official Eviction

Lesson #1: Evictions are expensive.

FACT: Evictions can cost a ton of money. I went into this process knowing I would incur some legal fees. To be honest, the legal fees weren’t too bad! It was the subsequent, hidden costs that caught me off guard.

Here is a quick breakdown of our costs:

Attorney fee (flat fee): $500.00

Serving of petition: $165.00

Court filing fee: $20.00

Eviction fee (paid to Sheriff’s department): $350.00

Moving fee: ~$2,000.00

Storage fee (including the purchase and gifting of a brand new pad lock): $112.00

Total: $3,147.00

This doesn’t account for the past due rent that remains unpaid. The rent on this particular unit was $1,450/mo. The whole process left us without rent for 4 months, a total of $5,800. This brings the grand total to just under $9,000! Now we have security deposits and there are ways to go after this money. But in the short term, it has a huge impact on our business!

An eviction notice taped to a door.

An eviction notice taped to a door.

Lesson #2: It’s a long, drawn out process.

We notified our lawyer of the intent to evict on March 4, 2016. We finally evicted the tenant on May 12, 2016. That’s over two full months to actually remove the tenant from the premises. During this entire time, we had no contact with the tenant, and we were advised not to bring new perspective tenants through the property. We simply sat and waited while this tenant continued to live for free!

Here is a detailed breakdown of the timeline:

1-Feb: Rent due

15-Feb: Notify tenant of intent to evict

16-Feb: Payment made by tenant via online payment portal

23-Feb: Payment returned due to insufficient funds

24-Feb: Payment made by tenant via online payment portal

1-Mar: Payment returned due to insufficient funds

4-Mar: Attorney begins eviction process, contact with tenant stops

29-Mar: Court hearing for eviction, tenant shows up and convinces judge to give 10 days to pay rent (she’s getting her tax return soon!)

9-April: Rent remains unpaid, attorney presents eviction warrant to court for signature

25-April: Eviction warrant signed

6-May: Tenant served notice of impending eviction

12-May: Eviction executed

Lesson #3: Don’t assume everyone is thinking logically.

There were several moments during the eviction process where I thought the tenant would act in a logical manner. For example, after being notified that she had 72 hours to vacant the property, one would assume the tenant would make arrangements to move her belongings. You would also think she would start thinking about where she will go once the eviction happened. Finally, you would assume the tenant would find a safe place for her children so that they wouldn’t have to witness the eviction.

All of these assumptions were wrong. It was as if the tenant did not believe that this was actually going to happen. Instead of having full and complete control over how she was to move out of her house, the moving and storage was left in the hands of a third-party.

Lesson #4: Evictions favor the tenant.

As mentioned above, there are a lot of costs that were not anticipated. It might seem unfair that you have to pay to move and store your tenants’ belongings. It sure is unfair! But honestly, what else can be done? The items need to go, and it’s impossible to force the tenant to arrange and pay for a moving company on his/her own. It really is the only option!

Unfortunately, the landlord is left feeling that this entire process is completely unfair and favors the tenant.

Lesson #5: Set aside a full day (or more!).

Keep your schedule open on eviction day! You need to be flexible to meet the sheriff’s deputy, coordinate with your movers, travel to the storage facility, etc. I originally thought I could show up at 10:00 a.m., get the movers going, and get on with my day. Instead, I was stuck arranging the storage facility and supervising the movers. There’s no doubt about it: This is an all-day event.

Lesson #6: The house isn’t necessarily destroyed.

This was a pleasant surprise for us. To our delight, the house was in good shape! We had nightmares of what we might find on the other side — but it really wasn’t bad. Perhaps because the tenant convinced herself that the eviction would never really happen, there was no sign of anger toward management.

Obviously, I realize we were lucky. There are countless horror stories of tenants breaking water lines, punching holes in the walls, and smashing windows. Given my deep anger toward the tenant for how much time and money she had cost my business, I couldn’t help but appreciate that she didn’t make it worse by damaging the property.


Lesson #7: The Sheriff’s Deputy has a really tough job.

I don’t envy the job of a Sheriff’s Deputy serving an eviction warrant. They are required to forcibly remove a family from their home. This is never a fun job. The deputies we worked with were extremely professional and fair to both parties. I can’t imagine having to deal with these situations on a daily basis.

Related: How I Was Almost Fooled by Evicted Tenants (& What I Learned)

Lesson #8: It’s hard to get your money back.

We have recently started the process of trying to collect our losses from this experience. We will have a judgement on the tenant, but collecting is the hard part. In our case, the tenant has a decent job. This gives us hope that we can garnish wages.

That being said, I am treating the expenses and unrealized revenue as a complete loss. If we are able to get some or all of it back, great. But I’m not counting on it!

Lesson #9: “Cash for keys” might be a logical alternative.

We have used the “cash for keys” strategy in the past. This strategy utilizes cash (in the form of a returned security deposit) to incentivize the tenant to leave the property. I’m confident that this strategy would not have been successful for this particular situation. The tenant was just not logical enough to understand the concept of a win-win situation. However, given the extensive timeline and outrages costs of an eviction, it’s a strategy worth considering.

Lesson #10: An eviction has the power to alter perspective.

This process made me angry. I was so ready to have this tenant out, and eviction day could not have come soon enough. After all, this tenant deceived me and insulted my business. All this being true, I was surprised to find myself feeling sympathy for the tenant on eviction day.

At the end of the day, we were kicking a family out of their home. There was obviously something unexplainable going on with this woman that she couldn’t prepare her family to live some place they could afford. The sight of the deputies removing the tenant with her children watching nearby was tough to watch.

We are in the people business. Our service is to provide a clean, safe, and enjoyable living experience for our tenants. It’s a shame when this service gets taken advantage of and we must act to protect our business and our livelihood. This eviction altered my perspective. I now have a stronger understanding of the importance of what we do as landlords.

It WILL Happen to You

As mentioned above, you are likely to experience an eviction during your career as a buy and hold investor. You can never be fully prepared. However, learning from those who have gone through the process will certainly help to tune your expectations.

[Editor’s Note: We are republishing this article to help out our newer members.]

What are some of your key learnings from evictions? What else should new investors understand about the process?

Thanks in advance for your contributions!

About Author

Nick Baldo

Nick Baldo started investing in real estate in 2011 with a focus on flipping houses in the Buffalo, NY area. He has since expanded his business, NY Home Solutions, to focus on value-added rental investments. Nick created and manages the real estate educational site, Income Digs to help aspiring real estate investors get started.


    • Marcus Robert

      I bought a 4 plex where I had to evict 3 out of the 4 tenants. Talk about stress!! I know it all too well. The building is in a nice neighborhood and since I have remodeled and attracted great tenants. The previous owners were slum lords and the some of the most deceiving people I have ever dealt with. What an experience! Makes you only want to buy empty buildings.

  1. Curt Smith

    Yes you can take to court but you need to know where they are currently living to “serve” papers, you need their bank account # to gaurnish. Too many problems with getting an evicted tenant to pay after they are put out. Useful to try you might get lucky.

    Glad I’m in GA a landlord friendly state. We just hire a company who does this to move their furniture to the curb, literally. No need for lockers or locks… If they are their on eviction day, stuff is put on the curb. I’ve never done the put the stuff out step, but close and they moved.

    • Glad I’m in Ga, too. i read we can store their stuff, and give them access for a certain time, after they pay storage fees. Then after that, you can keep it. But i wouldn’t want to. Also, I’ve never heard of anyone here paying for a lawyer to evict.

      I’ve only had to evict 1 time. Tenant showed up after his requested hearing was over, reeking of gin, wanting to talk to the judge. She was not impressed, and gave him 3 days. But he was WAY behind. (I’ve tightened up a bit since then. ) I paid extra to have the deputy track down and deliver notices to the tenant. That is what they said was necessary if you wanted to get money out of them. Little did I know that there were several other fees and steps involved to do so. They asked where he worked. I found his job was only temp (I am taking notice of all the great screening posts here).

      I asked a few landlords, and none of them have been successful in getting blood from a turnip. A lot of tenants getting evicted or that flee have lost their job, or have multiple debts. After they leave, you’ll see the bills and legal notices come pouring into their mailbox.

      So I have decided ,from now on, to pay only for the tacked notice, and forget pursuing money that doesn’t exist. The deputy that stood around while we hauled out junk, said it was a misconception that landlords (here) have to give 30 days like I’ve heard. However, i still will do that although they are already behind when i give the notice, because then you usually don’t have to evict, especially if you tell them that debts will be forgiven if they will just move on. Plus, although I had no problem with getting rid of this guy, I have a (too) soft spot for the ones, especially with kids, who have been laid off, sick, etc..

      • Kathryn MacGeraghty

        I’ve gotten money from ex-tenants. Since it’s not in my line of business, so to speak, I fork it over to my collections company. After that I don’t think about it again. A few times I’ve looked at the stats. They collect roughly 30% of debt (from inception to recent). 15% is better than nothing, plus I’m doing future landlords a favor by impacting their credit report.

  2. My nightmare tenant was early in my RE investing career. I envisioned a very lengthy and expensive ordeal similar to yours, so I offered $500.00 if they were out w/the keys returned by the end of the week. Well, they left in the dead of the night (W/o the $500) leaving a $1,500 worth of damage and cleanup. I still, however, feel that I got off cheap. This is fortunately the exception and not the rule.

    The moral of the story is to do a thorough job of due diligence before move-in date. Is this an absolute guarantee of avoiding the nightmare scenario described in your article, no, it’s not. However, it sure reduces the likelihood of such an event happening.

  3. John Underwood

    SC evictions are rather painless. $40 to file eviction, 10 days later can pay $10 to schedule sheriff to force ably remove tenant if they are still there. Move there stuff to curb and change the locks on the house. Only had to do this once so far as most people leave in the middle of the night. Still not any fun to kick some to the curb. It is hard taking the emotional out of the business. If you let them they will tell you a thousand excuses that all sound believable.

  4. In the Chicago Metro area ( Cook County), it takes 3 weeks to get a court date, the judge frequently gives the renter “until the end of the month” to pay. After getting the eviction papers, the Cook County Sheriff can take up to 3 months to actually evict the renter. All this time the renter is living in your property rent free. In our area, you do not have to store the renter’s belongings. You have to pay someone to move the stuff out of the house, but they can be placed at the curb.

    Awful, awful process. Screen out the deadbeats like your business depends on it, because it does!

      • Deanna Opgenort

        LONG friendly chat – let them talk & take notes
        Interview like crazy & pretend it’s a “whodunnit” — follow up on every clue that something might be amiss (“not found at that address? Hm…),
        Moving because landlord just sold their current house (check that address on Zillow ),
        Check online court records (I’ve found all kinds of stuff in the court records of tenant prospects- DUIs, evictions, attempted plane theft, poaching, firearms & loose dog complaints)
        DON’T ignore your instincts; better to walk away from a tenant who might be OK than to take a tenant who was setting off your warning bells & find out that you were right about them (and this is really, really hard when you have a vacancy BTW).
        Be a good landlord — Information gets around, especially in smaller towns.

      • ken gurta

        There are plenty of sites that offer screening. I use the one here on B.P. It worked like a charm.There is a high demand for rental properties where I live in Georgia. A serious applicant will not balk at paying the $25 or $35 fee. The process is easy, quick, and informative. No screening can guarantee a problem free tenant, but it can certainly help eliminate the ones that you don’t want to rent your property. I have only had good tenants since I started screening and background checks.

      • Joshua Saunders

        I use https://cozy.co for all my landlording and screening. It allows you to require REAL background and credit check on the application or application can be free and can get credit and background check later. Can collect rent online too for free. Also, Landlordology.com has A TON of good information including state laws. If you study the law and learn the eviction process you probably don’t need a lawyer.

  5. Jerry W.

    In Wyoming it is 40$ to file, then $50 to have the Sheriff serve them. Court is normally held in 2 weeks, I have had a court once grant 2 continuances so it stretched out another month. Usually the court will do a Writ of restitution giving the property back in 3 days or less. I did have a judge who gave a tenant an extra 30 days to move out who was handicapped and it was 20 below zero. I have only done one eviction for myself and it was a case where a tenant moved out and another moved in without my knowledge and kept sending in the rent.

  6. Nathan G.

    You can shorten the timeline with one easy step: once rent us late, only accept money orders or cash. By letting the tenant pay online (using an empty bank account) you stretched this out two more weeks and caused yourself two weeks of worry.

    Rent is due on the 1st with 3-day grace period. After the 4th day of the month I will only accept money orders or cash.

    Be careful with cash-for-keys. It’s pushed way too much on this site and is a sign if bad management policies or skills. I manage over 200 rentals and have had only one eviction in the last 3 years and not a single cash-for-keys in nearly 7 years.

  7. Susan Maneck

    Wow, and I thought I had a difficult time removing a tenant. In my case it took five months, but all I had to pay for as far as moving expenses was someone to take the stuff to the curb. Also, I didn’t use an attorney because I was told that takes $2000. The constable never showed up but he told me to take their stuff out anyhow. Fortunately they weren’t home at the time. In any case, the eviction fee is only about $70 not $350. And it is up to the court to notify the tenant of the court case. Court filing fees were about $65. Unfortunately my tenants had friends at the courthouse who were advising her how to avoid eviction which is why it took so long. I will filing to garnish their wages, but I don’t expect much out of that. I don’t think they did any deliberate damage to the house but they did nothing to keep it up either. I found holes in the walls, scratched flooring, etc. In all about 2K worth of damages. I’d say the whole ordeal cost me 6-7K which isn’t far from your figure.

  8. Mehran K.

    GREAT article. These are the many things I’ve come to accept after dealing with some evictions. It’s the cost of doing business and even more of a reason to keep ample reserves in the bank. Reserves help not only to actually pay for these costs and weather the storm, but also reducing anxiety while it’s all happening!

  9. Thomas Guertin

    It would be nice to know what states are Landlord friendly. I’m a landlord in Mass and it is a tenant friendly state.
    I just finished up my first and hopefully worst eviction a few weeks ago. Tenant was living rent free for 10 months and I incurred $11,000 in legal fees. Total loss over $21,000. Tenant decided to opt for a jury trial which added a lot more layers paperwork for my lawyer and time. Glad it’s over. Learned a lot in the process which has saved me when I went to rerent the unit. I would suggest every know whether you can find you county court records online. In Mass, they have a website that they post everything so I just enter the prospective tenants name and their court history comes up. Great tool to use.

    • That website sounds great! Wish we had one. Here in Ga. tenant can opt for a hearing with them, landlord, and judge. Mine asked for that. i asked him “why ?”if he knew he owed $. He said to give himself more time. But they don’ t go in front of a jury normally. Of course, my tenant didn’t show up for the hearing he requested, so judge only heard my side. And him coming in drunk afterwards also made things easier.

  10. In 50 years I have had onlly two evictions. One was 40 years ago when a tenant offered me cash for the deposit and first months rent. He never paid again. The weekend before the eviction he brought in a friends German Shepperd, filled the bathtub with water and piles of dog food, and left the dog there. You can image the mess. I was so distressed I locked the unit and didn’t go back until 6 months. Lesson: Never take cash.

    The second told me he had terrible credit and that he was a recovering alcoholic. The day before I had received the proceeds from a home sale that had just quadrupled in value! He pleaded with me “You could be the first person to give me a second chance at life.” I was so thankful for the big sale, I thought I should trust him. He too gave me cash, but never paid again. It took three months to get him evicted. Lesson: this is a business and no room for trying to be Mother Theresa!

    The past 40 years have been great. I am soooo careful before I accept a new tenant.

  11. I have to say that I appreciate your sensitivity of feeling towards the tenant. I’ve been there and it’s hard to stay angry when you see people getting kicked out of their home.
    Unfortunately it sometimes has to be done, but it’s important to preserve our humanity.

    • Victor Jimenez

      I’ve never had to “evict” a tenant per say. But i’ve had to terminate their lease cause i had to move in. (Loan requirements) I had purchased the property and the first real interaction i had with them was serving them with a “termination notice”. I felt bad. But it’s a great learning experience

  12. Mike Dymski

    Wow, sorry to hear about that expensive and painful process. I am fortunate to live in a state (SC) where landlords and tenants are obligated to honor contracts and pay rent and the eviction process is not costly.

  13. Philip Kauppila

    My girlfriend’s ex-husband is probably an extreme outlier, but he has forced me to look at business dealings in a brand new and terrifying way. It took the bank over 5 YEARS to foreclose on his house. He lived rent free the whole time, took a cash offer to leave and stayed anyway for about 6 months longer. He “bought” a used Mercedes Benz for $15,000, made a down payment of $1,000, made a few token payments of aprxly $300 total, drove it several thousands of miles and probably ruined the car, until it was recently repossessed. He has a long list of people he owes money to that includes Uncle Sam (for over $165,000.00 for unpaid student loans). And believe it or not, there are still people who will “sell” him a car or other things on credit. Anyone who does not do credit checks on prospective tenants, in my opinion, are nuts and just waiting for deadbeats like him to take advantage of you. And oh by the way, he is very good at telling you his SOB story so you will feel sorry for him. That is how he works.

  14. Lorin k.

    WOW this is tough. I guess for the first time investor who has little in reserves for such a costly thing as eviction, its better to just sell a few houses pool the profits, then as some one said “screen three times” the tenant. Ohh a tenant can lie about her references using her relatives. How do you know if the references be it former land lord or former contractors client references are lies? I think owning a small apartment complex would be safer as the building is only loosing a small portion of its revenue vs the entire house.

    Does some one have a list of landlord friendly states?

  15. Robert Kim

    I’m in South Carolina. Here, evictions are easy and you can actually keep the tenant’s stuff if you do it right. Here, an eviction is only $55 (you file it yourself) and about a month later you can either set out the tenant by putting their stuff on the curb if it’s over $500 worth if stuff (legal) or just keep it and make them take you to magistrate’s court to get it back (gray area legally but very few ever take you to court). I had a tenant who was arrested for dealing drugs out of my house and left much if his stuff behind (thousands of dollars worth of stuff). His bedroom suite is now my bedroom suite among other things. He’s got other problems to deal with, he’s not coming back for his stuff.

    Short story, know your landlord-tenant laws in your state and eviction doesn’t have to be the nightmare that Nick makes it out to be. My lease is solid and I have enough knowledge of the law here to keep tenant hassles to a minimum. Most of my property managing time of my 16 rental properties is spent at home in my underwear either walking the dog, playing with the pets, or cyberslacking on the Internet like I’m doing now.

  16. Kathryn MacGeraghty

    After 15 years in fee management, I’ve had plenty of evictions experience from owners that come to me with trouble. There were a few that got under my skin, some tenants having trouble accessing reality. Mostly though, I get them done with a sense of satisfaction.

    Colorado and Washington both take less than a month. The costs in Washington are 4x Colorado, though. There are storage concerns in Washington, too.

  17. Evictions are very timely and costly, due diligence helps to reduce the risk of loss when it comes to identifying a reliable tenant, however that is never a solid guarantee. With a few clients that I have worked with in the past who were experiencing evictions, the suggestion of cash for keys is always a subject of conversation.

  18. I heard several comments about “feeling bad” for the delinquent tenants’ “unfortunate situation.” Developing your mental toughness as a landlord is a required personality trait to good property management. It keeps you strong in the face of adversity. My turning point in this area occurred 10-years-ago.

    A tenant of mine sent me three emails over the course of two-weeks in December letting me know the various reasons he was late on rent. Well, I decided it was better to have him tell me these stories face-to-face, so I knocked on his door the following day. We were on the front porch when he yelled, “YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND, WE’RE NOT HAVING CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR!” My furtive glance in the front window revealed a Christmas tree w/many gifts neatly tucked underneath, so my reply was, “What does that have to do with the rent?” You see, what he was really saying was, “hey, Mr. Landlord, I’m having some financial troubles this month, so since you seem to have money, it would be better for you to help me through this difficult period. They ended up leaving in the dead of the night (shortly after Christmas) while leaving me a wonderful Christmas gift, thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. There were damaged cabinets, stained carpets blown-out screens and multiple syringe’s hidden in cabinets; in fact, my wife almost got stuck by one. The keys were deliberately thrown in the front yard for me to find. I cleaned and repaired the house and rented it to GREAT tenants within two weeks. None of this was personal to me, just business.

    Another story illustrating human nature. After fifteen years of buying small hotels, doing maintenance and cleaning rooms, my friend finally bought a Holiday Inn in a small Alabama town, his dream come true. He drove crappy trucks for many years to get to this point, so he decided that he would finally buy a new car. He parked his new Mercedes under the portico the following week, within three days four employees asked for a raise. He started driving his old truck to work.

    Einstein once said, “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” None of this is personal, just business.

  19. Carl Miller

    I wonder about a deluxe cash for keys arrangement. It looks like the whole affair took about 5 months to wrap up. Five months of missed rent sucks. What about an offer to assist the tenant with finding an alternate, cheaper place to live and letting them keep the security deposit plus a bit to help them get through a couple of months in exchange for leaving quickly and quietly and without damaging the premises. When that’s done, maybe jack up the rent a bit to discourage renters who want to take advantage of an overgenerous landlord.

    I would hope that the whole mess could be resolved in two months and without the psychological issues of being EVICTED!. I’m no expert, but I would think that would help tenants who clearly don’t think renting is, in fact, a business transaction. Maybe they’d see that they’re overextending themselves a little too much.

  20. Lee Carrell

    Wow, lots of great comments and stories! Too bad we have those stories to tell in the first place.

    Landlords have to look at evictions as a CODB (cost of doing business). Those with experience continue to fine-tune their screening and renting policies and procedures for as long as they have properties. Each time, they get closer and closer to the nirvana of finding “perfect tenants”. Unfortunately, I have had to evict several tenants. I don’t look at it as personal anymore. It is not my fault that they couldn’t pay the full rent on time as they promised. We all have bills to pay and bad situations that happen to us, but we cannot put that off on someone else! I tell the tenants “It’s too bad that you caused yourself to be evicted.”

    Get familiar with the laws in your state, streamline and speed up your eviction process, don’t take it personally, and move on to the next tenant quickly. Prepare for the worst and pray for the best!

  21. Lord, Lord!! I am soooo glad I live in Texas. Landlord friendly. Don’t pay your rent? – you’re out in 2 weeks, minimal $. If I don’t get rent, the 3rd day I file for eviction. If the tenant pays rent, penalty and eviction fee, all is well, no hard feelings. Always keep it upbeat and friendly with the tenant – it’s just business. I always have a “senior partner” (wink) that makes me do all the dirty work. Don’t blame me – it’s the senior partner’s rules!

  22. ken gurta

    I had to evict a tenant once. This woman first looked at my house accompanied by a husband and wife realtor team. The realtors assured me that they had already done background checks on the woman, that she always paid her rent on time, and that she lived in her last house for 7 years. The Realtors even drew up the lease, a much stricter one than I usually write. So, I thought I was safe. Wrong. My tenant was a professional scam artist. She was always suing someone or some company. Often, she would win some of these court cases. Her furniture was so nice that she had it covered and never sat on it. She instead used a third bedroom in the house as her family room and t.v. watching room.

    I often wondered how a woman Whose source of income was retirement checks and Social Security could afford such luxuries. I found out after I won my eviction but had to battle her in Bankruptcy court to try to recover the judgement she owed me. By this time, she was already suing another employer. I wasn’t as fortunate in Bankruptcy court even though she was forced to disclose that she had won $26,000 in a settlement during the time she was supposed to be paying me rent.

    What I have learned here on B.P. is that every prospective tenant has to go through the process. I don’t care if they’re Bill Gates or Donald Trump. I Don’t care if they have $5000 in their pocket as one applicant did. And I certainly don’t care what someone’s realtor has to say about them. Once I have received their application, I tell them “Now let’s see if you qualify”. Then we move onto the screening and background checks.

    My advice is to screen Everyone! Had I done that on the tenant I evicted, I would have found out that she was being evicted by her current landlord. Also, if you win a judgement, collect it before it goes to Bankruptcy court or let it go. It’s virtually impossible to win in Bankruptcy court even if you have a really well prepared attorney as I did.

  23. Bought a turnkey from somebody from these forums recently…it came with a loser tenant. Evicted the tenant 7 months later along with over $20k in repairs/damages. Also switched property managers right after whom was just as lousy. I’m a new SFR buy and hold investor but after this experience will probably resort back to other investment vehicles. From my modest experience, my advice is if you buy a turnkey, vet the existing tenant prior to buying and if that checks, switch the property manager right away upon closing.

  24. Bernie Neyer

    I just finished another eviction, my third, and most of what you described didn’t occur in my case. I don’t know what the state statutes are for New York, but I’d get some advice real soon or invest some place else.

    Most states, and I’m sure NY, NJ, CA and some others have exceptions, but when evicted you simply put the tenants property on the street. If you move the property, you become responsible for any loss or damage. I’ve heard of landlords simply storing the tenant’s property in the house itself. When they fail the pay the storage fees, the same amount as the rent, you can liquidated the property as with all storage delinquencies.

    Everyone is sold on “cash for keys’ but I’d like to point out that you don’t leave a paper trail for the next landlord when they do a background check on you ex-tenant. If you use cash for keys, then you may not be able to litigate any damages or other cost you’ve incurred. Cash for Keys becomes an enforceable contract, so be sure you get something in writing.

    I live in a small town, but have investment properties in other communities. Tenants and deadbeats tend to congregate together and when word gets around you’ve evicted someone for nonpayment of rent, it can wake up others that might think they could get away with it or that you’re an easy mark.

    Why are you fretting of this? It isn’t your fault, if you did your due diligence on the tenant to begin with. Good tenants can go bad, so this is totally the tenant’s fault. Suck it up and move on.

    Prepare now for the future.

    Find an attorney that will do a better job of fighting for you, one that will push the envelope as some do for other clients. If possible find one that does flat fee evictions.

    Discover what you can do concerning the tenant’s property. You may as I previously indicated, be able to put it on the street. Hire other tenants that may need extra money. It will become a teaching moment for them.

    Write your contract so the rent is due on the first and late on the second. My experience is that if you give them a grace period of 5 to 7 days, they don’t think the rent is due until the 7th.

    Serve the tenant their 3 Day, or in some states, 5 Day Pay Rent or Quit notice as soon as they are delinquent. Post it on their door and take a picture of it, so that later they can’t complain they never got it.

    Notify your attorney’s office you may need an eviction and make an appointment to drop the papers off (copies of contract and any notices resulting from their delinquency) and pay a retainer if they want one. If you don’t use the retainer you can get it back.

    Pull the trigger the next day after the 3 Day notice lapses and have the attorney proceed. At that time you will have a conference with the attorney, so they can get billable hours and you will give a history of this delinquency. Impress on the attorney you want their sorry tails out ASAP as they are stealing money from you.

    Say a prayer for yourself and the tenant. You don’t have to be mean, but deadbeat tenants are not just hurting you. By reducing your profitability, they are hurting other tenants when you have to raise rents to cover expenses. Your business goes beyond just tenants. Think of all the products and services your rental business purchases or uses. If you get tired of it all and throw in the towel, everyone suffers for who will take your place?

  25. Jerome Kaidor

    Ah, evictions. I was really traumatized by the first few. Now, I’ve done…. at least 25. Maybe 50. I’ve lost count. Now, I don’t even go. My staff goes. Or I pay a lawyer to go. I just write big checks. There’s always a new wrinkle.

    In one jurisdiction in which I do business, there is an office of aggressive tenant lawyers. They advise the tenant to request a jury trial. My lawyer charges a minimum of $5K to litigate such a trial, but he says people generally deal. The typical deal is 6 months free rent. To request a jury trial, the tenant has to deposit $150 with the Court. What a great investment!

    In another jurisdiction, people have started routinely filing “demurrers”. A demurrer is an ex-parte ( one-side ) declaration filed with the Court that basically says “This eviction is flawed and frivolous on the face of it, and the case should be dismissed without trial”. My lawyer charges $850 to defend a demurrer. Ouch!

    Of course, people being evicted OFTEN call the City and complain about the ratty state of the apartment. This can be a big deal if the city sends out an eager inspector. But the person who comes out often knows that the complaint is just tenant retaliation. We had one of these today. City sent out an inspector. He found:
    * One loose chip of paint.
    * A small tear in the bathroom floor linoleum where the plumber had installed a new toilet
    * A spot at the edge of one window where you could see daylight.
    ……….and that’s ALL. He said “fix it by next Wednesday”, and we said “Yes, SIR!”

    I had an interesting one a few years ago. This was a retired nurse to whom I had rented a studio 8 years previous. She was an ideal tenant, paying the rent like a clock. Every month the rent would come around the 1st….until it suddenly stopped. Since she was such a good long-term tenant, I sent the manager around to see if she needed some accomodation. She just said “Tell the Kaidors to file”. OK, you don’t have to tell me twice.

    She filed an answer that was 10 pages long. She basically accused us of stealing her electricity. She said her bills were very high, and we were obviously running the whole complex off of her meter. I paid an electrician
    to come out and verify that all of our stuff was on our breaker. Brought his invoice to court. We had to duke it out in front of the judge. We won, she lost.

    She left the apartment slightly damaged. She took a hammer and busted up the ceramic floor tiles in the kitchen. She pulled all the sockets and switches out of the wall, and CUT THE WIRES. She cut supply lines to the sinks to cause a flood. She busted up the water heater & stove. She set a fire in the bathtub. She stole the knobs and latches out of the doors. She slashed the tires on my manager’s car. That was an expensive turnover.

    Reading the detailed, crabbed text of her answer, it seemed obvious to me that she had gotten into drugs.
    Imagine, this lady had been a perfect tenant for 8 years!

  26. Tchaka Owen

    The most important statement is probably the one where you said it is different depending on where you are located. That’s key!

    Per Jerome Kaidor above, he’s dealing in a VERY tenant-friendly environment. I’m in FL which i tenant-friendly as well, however not like that. And we do NOT have to pay storage;; additionally, Sheriff fees are just south of $100. My first eviction was not bad….it was started by the sellers (we were buying the house) and we finished it. Met the Sheriff outside, he went in and give 15 mins to clear out. Just like your example, this woman did not believe it was happening (never mind that we’d tried a cash for keys approach). The other roommate was at work and the Sheriff said to pile it all in the driveway, which we did. Once outside, I asked the Sheriff to advise them coming back in would be tresspassing. They behaved accordingly and all was fine.

    We did several others and the best advice I can give is that you pay for an attorney to do it. I personally handled a few and it wasn’t difficult, but in the end, my time is worth more than that. Plus, I’m not an attorney and not as well-versed. It’s better to pay a professional to make sure it’s handled properly. The second best piece of advice is to get the ball rolling quickly. Mr. Nice Guy doesn’t cut it.

  27. kirk olsen

    Put a exhibit in lease of the waiving the right to the eviction process that they fully agree and fully understand this. That 10 days after grace period there possessions will be put at the property edge. If rent has not been paid. Use the fully agree and fully understand this twice. A fellow landlords lawyer here tx looked at it said would stand up n court. I make them sign initial and date and have another one for cats and rent going sky high too. Just my 2 cents.

  28. Deanna Opgenort

    Hm. I’m not sure it would be legal in CA to have a lease that has the tenant forfeiting their rights. My lease already has a “tenant pays for cost of eviction” clause, but the blood-out-of-a-turnip issue has already been cited. I wonder about a clause that states “Landlord has right to publish your deficiencies on all internet/social media without being charged with libel” would strike a bit of fear in tenants LOL!

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