As a property owner, dealing with non-paying tenants can be a stressful and frustrating experience. Evictions, also known as Unlawful Detainer cases, are often seen as the last resort when attempts to resolve payment issues fail. However, it’s crucial to understand that the eviction process is not without its complexities and potential pitfalls. In this blog, we’ll explore common issues that can prevent property owners from winning eviction cases and how to avoid them. We’ll also delve into how having a property management company can significantly reduce these challenges. If you lose the case, you will have to start the entire process over from the beginning, you might be required to pay the tenant’s attorney’s fees and court costs, all while the tenant is still in your home.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. The author is not a lawyer, and readers are encouraged to consult with legal professionals for specific legal guidance.
1. Inadequate Notice
Nonpayment of rent is, surprisingly, one of the easiest cases for tenants to win. The notice served may lack essential information, be improperly served, or not meet legal requirements. To start the eviction process on the right foot, ensure that you provide the correct notice and follow the legal procedure precisely. Property management companies are well-versed in these legal requirements and can ensure compliance from the beginning, and possibly prevent the situation from reaching this point.
2. Late Fees and Repairs
If you’ve charged tenants illegal late fees or made repairs that entitle them to rent credits, your eviction case may be weakened. Review your lease agreements and rental policies to ensure they comply with California laws and avoid any issues during eviction proceedings. There must be exact language in your lease to be able to collect late fees.
3. Defective Conditions
Defective conditions in your property may allow tenants to withhold rent legally. Always address any maintenance or repair issues promptly, especially before pursuing eviction to avoid complications in court. Property management companies can facilitate property inspections, ensure timely maintenance,
keep your property in good condition and reduce the risk of such issues. You are responsible for maintaining your property whether the tenant is current on their rent or not.
4. Illegal Construction
In some cases, the property may be illegally constructed (unpermitted), like additions or ADU’s, making the collection of rent unlawful. It’s essential to ensure that your property complies with all local and state building codes.
5. Lease Agreement
Your lease agreement should clearly outline your rent collection policy, late fees, and consequences of unpaid rent, including eviction. Avoid relying on verbal agreements and use legally enforceable lease templates tailored to California to protect your interests. Property management companies use lease agreements that have been diligently crafted by a team of attorneys.
6. Emotional Conflicts
Personal emotions can lead to verbal disputes between landlords and tenants, which may escalate to accusations of housing discrimination. Always maintain professionalism in your interactions with tenants to avoid legal issues. Property management companies act as a buffer, handling tenant communications professionally and keeping detailed records of all communications.
7. Accepting Partial Payments
Accepting partial rent payments may unintentionally waive your right to proceed with eviction. Be cautious when considering partial payments, as they can complicate the eviction process. Property management companies can provide guidance on rent collection policies. When using online payment methods, it is essential to be able to stop the tenant from making payments to keep this from voiding your eviction process.
8. Property Entry
Always follow proper notice of entry requirements when inspecting your property. Even during eviction proceedings, you must adhere to state laws regarding entry and notification. Property management companies can ensure compliance with property access regulations. It can be considered harassment if you contact the tenant excessively trying to collect rent. It is a fine line.
9. Documenting the Process
Maintain thorough documentation of all communication, notices, and evidence related to the eviction process. This includes the Notice to Quit, Rental Agreement, correspondence, emails, text messages, and more. Property management companies have processes in place to assist in organizing and storing essential documents and communications.
10. Trial Preparation
Prepare diligently for your eviction trial. Gather all necessary documents and evidence, including bank statements and tenant ledgers, to present a strong case in court. It is often the party with the most documentation that wins the case. Property management companies work closely with their attorney’s to have a complete arsenal of documents and communications and prove their case.
11. Legal Costs
An eviction lawsuit can become costly if not managed correctly. If you lose the case, you might be required to pay the tenant’s attorney’s fees and court costs. Ensure you have a robust case with solid evidence to avoid such expenses. Only to have to start the entire process all over again with the tenant still in possession of your property.
12. ‘Cash for Keys’ Program
Consider offering a ‘cash for keys’ program as an alternative to eviction. This approach can incentivize tenants to leave gracefully, saving you time, money, and potential property damage. Property management companies can facilitate negotiations with tenants. There are some instances where this could be your only option, COVID was a good example of that.
In conclusion, navigating the eviction process successfully requires careful attention to detail, knowledge of California rental laws, and professionalism in your interactions with tenants. Property management companies, with their expertise and resources, can significantly reduce the stress associated with these challenges. By avoiding these common pitfalls. By enlisting the assistance of a property management company, you can minimize the stress and financial burden associated with eviction and maintain a profitable rental property. As a property management company, it is our roll to reduce the chances of things ever getting this far. Please call us if you need help with a problematic tenant.