Updated May 2, 2022.
Dealing with a Professional Tenant is challenging enough without adverse economic conditions. When a moratorium on evictions means you can’t remove a bad tenant from your property, difficult tenants become a bigger problem.
During a crisis like COVID-19, it’s more likely than ever that you could get saddled with a hard-to-remove Professional Tenant in your investment property. This becomes especially apparent when you haven’t done your due diligence in the screening process.
- Maybe they won’t pay the rent despite your efforts to help with a payment plan.
- Perhaps they’re “social distancing” with too many long-term “guests” in your property.
- Maybe you’ve even seen them openly coughing on their neighbors during a heated dispute!
No matter if they aren’t paying rent or they’re breaking other rules in the lease agreement, a moratorium means you can’t evict—so, how do you handle a bad tenant under these circumstances? Here’s some insight from the experts in property management.
Please note: This article is not intended as a substitute for the great legal advice of a skilled attorney. It’s designed to help property owners get a little footing during these troubling times for our community. If you need direct legal counsel, reach out to your allies at Reeder Asset Management.
You Have to Follow the Rules
Property owners have to follow the rules—even when they change. We’ve experienced a moratorium on evictions during the economic crisis surrounding COVID-19 job loss. Now that our government is relaxing the rules prohibiting evictions, property owners might be wondering what to do.
First, let’s understand what “moratorium” means. If we see another wave of the novel Coronavirus or deal with anything similar in the future, it’s critical to understand terminology so that you can protect yourself and follow the rules.
An eviction moratorium means:
- Landlords can’t evict for nonpayment of rent due to a tenant’s loss of income from widespread economic downturns: Recently, this meant if your tenant lost their job due to COVID-19, landlords couldn’t evict a tenant if they weren’t able to pay the rent.
- It’s temporary: Eventually, your tenants must catch up on their rental payments.
- It doesn’t apply to every situation: Tenants who break the rules, destroy your property, or refuse to pay the rent (even though they can) could be eligible for eviction during a crisis.
- It doesn’t exempt tenants from following the rules: A moratorium might delay an eviction, but it doesn’t cancel an eviction that can move forward after the crisis.
Turning to an expert property management firm can help property owners understand how an eviction moratorium works—as well as what their options are. They can also help you determine if a tenant’s behavior can result in eviction despite crisis conditions.
How Can You Prepare for Eviction After a Crisis?
Every eviction needs to follow the legal process. Consult a professional property manager and your legal counsel when considering eviction for a tenant—regardless of a crisis. You’ll also help protect yourself as a property owner and your property with these steps.
1. Document Everything
You need a paper trail to support your case for evicting a tenant. From documents to emails, texts, and phone calls, keep a log of every interaction with the tenant. Include:
- Notes about the tenant’s responses (or lack of response) to rental payment reminders
- If the tenant complied with requests to follow the rules outlined in the lease agreement
- Your efforts to encourage the tenant to pay the rent, comply with the rules, or voluntarily move out.
This file of conversations and interactions becomes the legal basis for the tenant’s eviction.
2. Send Notices (As Appropriate)
- If a tenant continues not to pay the rent, it’s appropriate to continue sending reminder notices.
- Your struggling tenants will be forthcoming with their financial situation during a crisis.
- They’ll work with you on a payment plan and remain tenants in good standing.
However, if a tenant takes advantage of a crisis and refuses to pay the rent or accept a payment plan, landlords can continue to send notices and apply fees, as noted in the lease agreement.
3. Evict After the Crisis
A crisis doesn’t mean bad tenant behavior or nonpayment of rent is okay. Property owners don’t need to ignore the actions of terrible tenants—even when evictions need to wait.
- When a moratorium lifts, gather your documentation and meet with your legal counsel.
- Work with professional property management to execute the legal eviction process and remove the tenant from your rental property.
Be Patient and Professional
A Professional Tenant can get under your skin and create headaches for property owners. It’s essential to stay professional until you’re able to evict a tenant.
- Continue providing excellent services outlined by your lease.
- Stay calm and follow the rules in the lease agreement.
- Don’t give a Professional Tenant any reason to file a counter lawsuit.
Doing the wrong thing can be the opening a tenant needs to walk away from your property without penalty—or worse, win the right to stay despite their refusal to pay rent or follow the rules.
Work With the Experts for Crisis Eviction Help!
A professional property manager is the best support system when evictions can’t happen during a crisis! Reeder Asset Management helps property owners navigate changing rules concerning tenants and evictions.
Let us step in and deal with tenants and evictions, so you don’t have to! We also have a plan to enforce rental payment collection during a crisis. Learn more about how we handle it with our free resource, the Collecting Rent in a Crisis Handbook.