No one wants to deal with a tenant eviction, but sometimes it’s a necessity. When a tenant is in breach of lease, you have to follow through with the consequences.
What's the goal of an eviction? To get back possession of the property.The goal is NOT to get back your money. There’s no need to be rude or unprofessional, but in certain circumstances, eviction is the only option. Remember, the tenant broke the terms of their contract. You’re just enforcing the terms they agreed to.
So, if your tenant makes one of these inexcusable mistakes, it’s time for them to go.
The Top Reasons to Evict a Tenant
1. Non-Payment of Rent
The most common grounds for eviction is non-payment of rent. Failure to pay rent can’t be tolerated. If rent is due on the 1st of the month and is late on the 3rd, we start eviction on the 4th. It seems like a quick reaction, but since these dates are clearly explained in a lease, the timeline isn’t negotiable. If a tenant doesn’t pay for the month, they can’t stay.
But don’t hold out hope for getting that money back. Your goal is to get a new tenant (who will pay) in the property as soon as possible and cut your losses.
2. Illegal Use of Property
When tenants engage in illegal activity, you have to do what is necessary to protect yourself, your property, and your neighbors. If you find your tenants using the property in violation of state or federal law, it’s your responsibility to evict them. In doing so, you’ll prevent property damage and limit potential lawsuits.
3. Breaking HOA Rules
If your rental property is a part of an HOA, your property has to meet certain standards. Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) may regulate landscaping, pets, outdoor decor, and parking. When your tenant signs the lease, they agree to uphold this agreement. Make those expectations clear from the beginning. However, if they refuse to comply, it’s time to start the eviction process.
4. Smoking in the Property
As one of the most expensive breaches of lease to fix, smoking in the property is inexcusable. To get your house back to normal, you’ll need new appliances, new outlets, new blinds, and fresh paint. Even tenants that always pay their rent on time can’t be given a pass for smoking inside. It just costs too much to fix.
5. Property Damage
Excessive property damage also leads to eviction, primarily because of the extreme costs involved in fixing the damage. If you find broken windows, holes in walls, broken appliances, or ruined floors, you can’t afford to keep the tenant around. They are a liability to your property.
Why Some Landlords Resist the Eviction Process
Even with tenants who blatantly violate the lease, some landlords hesitate when we recommend an eviction. They think it may be easier to get the tenant to pay or fix the damage. But the tenant doesn’t take you seriously unless you do what you said you would do. See, every time we have a client who says, “Hey, don’t file an eviction,” there are always more problems to come. Why?
We set the expectations in the contract for the tenant to pay on time and follow the lease. If they don’t, they breach the lease and we file an eviction. If we decide not to file or cancel the eviction, we’ve undermined our expectations. Now, they believe that since these terms were negotiable, others will be too.
Is Eviction the Only Option?
Although some violations are inexcusable, there are problems a tenant can resolve to avoid eviction. So why let them stay? If the tenant can cure the lease, without causing you much (if any) expense, consider working with them.
When in doubt, answer these questions to decide the best resolution:
- What was the violation?
- Is this causing damage?
- Can I keep this person in the property?
- Do I still feel comfortable with them?
Perhaps the tenant has a pet they didn’t disclose. If so, consider allowing them to fill out the application for the animal and pay the pet deposit. If it’s a case involving an unauthorized occupant, let the other person apply.
Eviction isn’t always an easy decision. Sure, non-payment of rent and damage result in eviction, but other mistakes can be fixed. Consider the cost of keeping a tenant vs. the cost of looking for a new one. If you’re dealing with a first offense that can be easily cured, working with the tenant will save you a lot of money in the end.
If you can work out an issue with the tenant, do it — just don’t stray from your process. Some breaches of lease non-negotiably result in eviction. And if a tenant gives you one of our top five reasons to evict, you have to start the eviction process. Within that process, they still have the opportunity to make things right.
The Non-Payment of Rent Eviction Process
The most common reason for eviction is non-payment of rent. Here's how the eviction process works in this circumstance. If rent is due on the 1st and late on the 4th, we’ll send out the notice on the 5th.
An eviction notice in Texas basically says, “You haven’t paid. You own X amount and have three days to pay the amount in full with certified funds.” That’s the landlord's invitation to settle the dispute without eviction. Once they have a certified letter, they know it’s a serious situation. Plus, they know exactly how much they owe.
Arranging a different schedule for payment never works — and you’re opening yourself up to discrimination lawsuits.
Do not set up payment plans. The only slight exception may be to delay the late fees until the following month if they don’t have a history of late payments. Arranging a different schedule for payment never works — and you’re opening yourself up to discrimination lawsuits. If you allow one person an opportunity that you don’t allow for someone else, you’re discriminating.
Yes, we want to work things out with the tenant, but only within the confines of the process. They owe their rent in full this month — do not make special agreements outside of the contract.
What if the Tenant Pays?
If the tenant pays their balance in full (rent and late fees) with certified funds (and the owner gives us approval), we cancel the eviction. It’s not that we want to evict tenants, it’s that we have to stick to the process. So, if they don’t pay the full amount with certified funds, we’re going to move forward with the eviction.
But, if you cancel, don’t forget about the fees you’ve accrued. Someone has to pay eviction-filing fees — even if you cancel the eviction — and late fees. When a landlord decides not to move forward, the charges stay on the tenant ledger.
In Texas, the courts charge $82 per adult (anyone over 18) to file an eviction. Technically, the tenant is responsible for those charges. But if they don’t pay, the owner is responsible. If you’ve accepted less than what’s owed and canceled the eviction, you've wasted your money. Sure, the tenant is technically responsible for that payment, but the further they get behind, the harder it is to pay the following month.
Because of that, the only way we settle is with a full balance paid in certified funds.
What Happens in Court?
If we have to go to court, we’re able to represent our client under the property management agreement. And if we have a written lease, an attorney does not have to be involved. And for every tenant we place, there's a written lease. Only when we’ve assumed a placement where there was no written lease will we not represent our client.
When we go to court representing our clients, we essentially read from a script explaining why we’re evicting the tenant. If the judge rules in our favor, they give the tenant five days to vacate the property or to appeal the decision. If the tenant appeals the decision, that’s when we get an attorney.
But this is rare. For tenants to appeal a decision and win, they’re claiming the information we provided was incorrect and that the judge made the wrong decision. Plus, they have to pay the total fees owed to be allowed to appeal a decision. It’s not common for tenants to appeal a decision. But if they do, we hire an attorney.
What Is a Writ of Possession? Will I Need It?
A writ of possession is only needed in rare cases. If the tenant hasn't left the property within the five days the judge gave them to vacate and hasn't appealed, that’s when we need a writ of possession. We go back to court to file the writ, and the constable sets a time to meet us. With the constable present, we remove all items from the house, put them in the front yard, and rekey the property.
Benefits of Using a Property Management Company to Handle an Eviction
A property management company takes care of all the eviction details. Plus, tenants are less likely to contest the matter if it’s handled by a professional.
See, tenants expect a homeowner to make a lot more exceptions than a property management company would allow. When tenants call us at LEAP, we let them know (without being rude or unprofessional) that we’re only asking them to agree to the contract they signed. We remind them that we’re hired to honor our agreement with the owner. And that’s usually the end of the conversation.
Tenants are less likely to contest the matter if it’s handled by a professional. They expect a homeowner to make a lot more exceptions than a property management company would allow.
With homeowners, tenants usually come up with more reasons on why they couldn’t pay, in hopes of playing on the homeowner’s emotions.
Plus, evictions are time-consuming processes with many opportunities for error — especially if you haven’t done it before. It’s easy for homeowners to mess something up that could turn the case against them. A judge will cancel an eviction due to a wording technicality or incorrect paperwork. That doesn’t mean the tenant wins — they still owe the money. But the owner has to start the process over — and the eviction process in Texas takes 32 days. Consequently, the owner loses an additional month’s rent due to a paperwork mistake.
When communication breaks down, or there isn’t any way to find a resolution, LEAP Property Management acts quickly, files the correct paperwork, makes court appearances, and removes the tenants on your behalf. We’ve regrettably done it before, and we’ll have to do it again in the future.
If you’re having issues with tenant payments or are entering into the beginning stages of an eviction, feel free to call us. We will be happy to help you through the process.