Avoiding Evictions And The Importance of Rental Background Checks

October 23rd, 2020
Avoiding Evictions And The Importance of Rental Background Checks

Disclaimer: This article is not legal advice for you to use in the event that you need to evict a tenant. This legal information is not the same as legal advice, where an attorney applies the law to your specific circumstances, so you should consult an attorney if you’d like advice on your interpretation of this information or its accuracy. You may not rely on this article as legal advice, nor as an endorsement of any particular legal understanding.

Successful rental property portfolios require due diligence, endless hours of research, hard work and foresight on the part of a Real Estate Agent or Landlord. There is another component that is arguably more important than the efforts of the agent and landlord and that is the tenants themselves. If for nothing else, a rental property is only as good as the tenants that reside in it. It is entirely possible for tenants to turn a good rental property into a great one or an abject disaster. So it is vital to pay special attention to those the tenant that intends to live in your property. As such, conducting a thorough rental background check will award peace of mind and hopefully serve as your first and only deterrent against having to go through an eviction process.

The main reason to avoid an eviction process is because it is extremely costly. Legal fees, court costs and lost rent are the financial triple threat that comes as a result of the eviction process. There are a variety of moving parts to the rental background check. That’s why it makes sense to work with a platform like RentSpree in order to streamline and simplify the process. A better process leads to faster and more confident decision-making. The reality however is that sometimes an eviction process is unavoidable and comes with the territory, but before you go down that path in this article we wanted to present some alternatives to eviction.

Prevention

If you are a private owner and are renting out a home, joining your local Home Owners association to help you structure rules for your rental property can save you from the headache that comes as a result of an eviction. Another preventative measure is developing an exhaustive tenant screening criteria. If you create a sample tenant screening criteria up front, you will be able to eventually land on implementing a consistent, measurable, actionable process for filling vacant rental properties. Lastly, and this should go without saying, you need to make sure that you have all of your tenants sign and execute a rental/lease agreement.

Eviction alternatives

You may be surprised to learn that there are some effective alternatives to eviction that can help you achieve the goal of moving on from a troublesome tenant.

Mediator & Arbitration

You can try and meet with the tenant to discuss and clarify terms with the thought that maybe things have gone bad due to a simple misunderstanding or miscommunication at the start of the lease. If you find that meeting with the tenant is not successful or even desirable, you can try meeting with the tenant but including a 3rd party. You can use a mediator or actually go through arbitration. The difference between the two 3rd party meetings is connected to the solution. Meeting with a mediator results in a non-binding solution, however meeting through arbitration results in a legally binding conclusion.

Opt out of lease renewal

You certainly have the right to not renew the lease based on legitimate business reasons. As an example, the tenant consistently pays the rent late or fails to properly maintain the apartment would be proper reasons to advise the tenant that you are not renewing their lease. It is a good idea to inform the tenants about your decision of not renewing the lease beforehand so that they are mentally and financially prepared to search for a new home. Also, this will be helpful in giving them enough time to find a new place so that when the lease expires, there won’t be any extensions and everything will run smooth. Please take care to send your tenant a notice in written form and keep a copy with you so that you have evidence that you are legally compliant.

Cash for keys

Cash for keys implies precisely what the title says. It is an agreement for a tenant to move out by a certain date in return for a lump sum of money to help with relocation costs. Rest assured that the amount of money needed to convince a bad tenant to move out is going to be far less than the costs associated with an eviction process. A cash for keys agreement should be in written form. The agreement should include:

  1. The date to hand the keys over
  2. The sum of money offered/accepted

Conclusion

Even though this article is about presenting you with alternatives to eviction, this is not an invitation to handle this process in ignorance. Agents and Landlords may feel tempted to avoid the evictions process by trying non conventional and borderline illegal methods to remove a tenant. This methods include :

  1. Changing the locks while the tenant still lives in the property
  2. Removing the tenant’s property
  3. Failing to pay included utilities like water, waste, etc.
  4. Threats of any kind, abusive language

The key is to always remain legally compliant at all times and set yourself up for success by having a higher degree of scrutiny through your rental background check and a more effective application process thus resulting in protection for you and your property.