One of the major disadvantages of being a landlord is the difficulty of getting rid of problematic tenants. Possible scenarios are when the tenant is a few months behind on their rent, or if the tenant does not take care of the property. These are mostly conditions stipulated in a lease contract, which the tenant may be in violation of. When such issues arise, the landlord has no recourse but to evict the tenant. Sending an eviction letter is the first step. However, the letter is just a notice and you need to be aware of other issues and requirements regarding eviction proceedings.
Know the eviction legal requirements. Before you decide to evict a tenant, you must first be familiar with the legal issues and rights of both the landlord and the tenant. Depending on various state laws, the conditions for eviction might differ. For example, you may need to give the tenant the eviction notice at least 60 days before the date the property is to be vacated, but in other areas, you can give as little as 5 days’ notice. As another example, you cannot use the strategy of cutting off electricity or water to force the tenant to leave due to tenant rights.
The best way to know these legal issues is to call or visit your local courthouse, or to hire a real estate lawyer or a lawyer familiar with landlord/tenant laws. In some cases, you can even have the lawyer write the eviction letter for you.
What goes inside an eviction letter? Should you decide to write the eviction letter yourself, format it like a business letter. Make the tone formal, and avoid colloquialisms. Make sure to include the following information:
- The date of the letter;
- The name of the tenant to be evicted;
- A clear statement that you want the rental property to be evicted;
- The reason for the eviction: you should indicate the particular provisions in the rental or lease agreement that were violated;
- The final date of occupancy;
- The condition that the property is to be left in;
- The next action you will take should the tenant refuse to leave the property.
If possible, it’s better to deliver the letter personally, instead of sending it via mail or a document-delivery service. This will ensure that the tenant cannot claim they were not informed of the eviction notice. If you are unable to deliver the notice yourself—say, you’re living in another state, or overseas—then you should have the notice delivered through registered mail or a courier service, which will give you a receipt as proof that the tenant has received the notice.
Next actions. That last bullet in the list above is an important point. When you decide to evict someone, an empty threat will only show that you are not serious with your business. Even before you hand over the eviction letter, you should have a plan of action ready should the tenant refuse to leave. This usually involves the intervention of courts or the law enforcers. In some areas, you cannot even physically evict the tenant yourself, so you have to know your exact steps. Hopefully, you would have already researched on the options available to you in your consultations with the courthouse or lawyer.
Being a landlord can provide you with a nice source of semi-passive income, but you need to be aware of the potential problems and how to overcome these. If both parties can settle the problems amicably and outside the legal system, then this is still probably the easiest and least costly course of action. However, if all else fails, then evicting tenants by sending them eviction letters is the first step in asserting your rights over your property.