Evicting a tenant is probably easier than you think.

Posted in Landlord-Tenant

A court staffer recently told me that he believed larger corporate landlords file a disproportionate number of the eviction in his court. I agreed that his belief was consistent with our firm’s findings. We represent a number of larger corporate landlords and families or individuals with anywhere from one to dozens of rental units. Despite living in an area where the majority of rental units are owned by individuals, we see far more evictions from our corporate clients.

Why is this? Do private landlords have fewer tenants missing rent payments? Do they have a better way of handling those who fail to pay? Experience tells us that none of these are the answer. More often than not, the difference is found in the landlord’ understanding and comfort with the eviction process.

When a corporate landlord contacts us to file an eviction, the tenant is usually one or two months behind in rent. The landlord has a security deposit and they ask that we proceed with eviction as quickly as possible. We are usually in court within three weeks and have the tenant out seven to ten days later. Many private landlords share a different experience. Many tell us that they have waited several months (six to eight is not an uncommon range) and already used the tenant’s security deposit for a past arrearage. As we discuss the situation, the landlord often explains that it started with the tenant having a financial problem and just never caught up. Eventually, the tenant is behind thousands of dollars with no hope of paying the landlord. The landlord often doesn’t understand the rules for evictions and fears that it will be a lengthy and expensive process. On top of all that, tenants often wrongly tell their landlords that there is some reason they cannot be evicted.

Too often this story ends with the landlord begging the tenant to leave and even “buying the keys back” by giving the tenant some moving money and/or a promise not to sue if they leave. Where a corporate landlord is often back to renting the unit in a month or two, many private landlords can lose thousands while trying to work things out with their tenant.

If you have ever found yourself trying to negotiate with a bad tenant, know that you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) do it anymore. Evictions are easier than you think.

  1. You don’t have to know all of the rules. One of the benefits of having an attorney who handles your evictions is that you do not have to know all of the details of Ohio eviction law. Most of our landlord clients fax or email (or drop off) the lease and a brief statement of the past-due rent. We have a short telephone conference and get them the notice they need with some instructions for service. Within a week, the mandatory waiting period has run and the eviction is filed in court.
  2. Evictions don’t take that long. We get almost all tenants out within two to four weeks after filing an eviction. That timing is important. If you have one month’s security deposit and we can get the tenant out in approximately one month, we are minimizing any loss you experience. You can usually have the apartment listed for rent the following month and be back to making money.
  3. Evictions are not as expensive as you think. The vast majority of evictions our firm handles cost less than the cost of one month’s rent and most are billed as a flat fee so that you can know how much you will invest in the process before you start. We have seen too many clients kicking themselves after realizing that they have lost thousands of dollars by waiting to evict when the cost of evicting would only have been a few hundred.

Where should you start? If you have a tenant that misses rent, you should contact them once the day after it is due. If they cannot make paying rent to you the priority, or make acceptable plans for payment beginning immediately, you should contact us to start the process. We will quickly diagnose your situation and provide you with the documentation and procedural guidelines to start the eviction. We will then work alongside you through the entire process from notice to the tenant to their physical move-out and pursuing your claim for any unpaid rent and damages. During it all, your tenant will be instructed to communicate with our office and leave you alone.

You became a landlord as an investment. Our firm is happy to help you maximize its return and keep from the significant losses that plague too many landlords. Please feel free to call us to schedule a meeting or telephone conference to learn more about how we can help you through the eviction process.