What To Do If Your Tenant Skips Out
If you have a tenant that all of a sudden has dropped off the grid, it’s frustrating. Unfortunately, your options as a landlord have been curtailed by some federal and state regulations centered around COVID-19. Here’s some advice about what to do if your tenant skips out.
Don’t Jump to Conclusions
If there’s anything we’ve learned lately, it’s that you never know what to expect. Try to avoid jumping to conclusions when you discover that your tenant is no longer in residence at your rental. In these challenging times, all kinds of scenarios are possible. Your tenant may have had to leave suddenly to care for a sick loved one. They may be so distraught that they aren’t aware of the rent due date and haven’t thought to contact you. It’s also possible that your tenant has come down with COVID-19. They could be in the hospital and unable to contact you.
What You Should Do
The first thing you should do if your tenant has skipped out is to wait a bit. Often, things become clearer with the passage of time. Just give it one week. If you don’t hear anything, take the next step.
The next thing you should do, because of the unusual circumstances of the pandemic, is to reach out to all the contacts related to your tenant. Dig out the lease agreement and see who they listed as their emergency contact. Find out if anyone in their social circle knows what’s going on. If possible, check with the neighbors. Do they know anything or did they see anything that might explain your tenant’s absence?
If You Find Your Tenant
Let’s say you actually find your tenant. It turns out that they had a reasonable excuse and you’re willing to give them a second chance. Consider offering them a payment plan to catch up on the rent payments. Put them in touch with local or federal resources where they can get financial help to cover the rent. At least if you do this, you’ll have a tenant instead of a vacant unit.
Eviction Regulations Now
If your tenant turned out to just be irresponsible and/or you can’t find them, you have other options. The way it currently stands, you can’t evict your tenant for missing or late rent payments. However, you might be able to evict your tenant if you have plans to move into the unit yourself or if you’re planning to sell the property. Barring that, you might be able to evict an absentee tenant, even during the pandemic. The laws vary from state to state, so check in with your state regulators. In the meantime, if you’ve set yourself up with a good contract, you should be able to go in and assess any damage that’s been done to the property. Any pictorial evidence you can gather will help you make your case for eviction if it comes down to that.
No landlord really wants to go through an eviction or have a tenant that skips out. Just make sure you avoid making assumptions about the reasons why your tenant has skipped out.