Unless you have to start the eviction process, your rental property investment has many great benefits. Added income, tax breaks, equity building, and a portfolio are just a few of the typical benefits. When you’re a landlord, you know that when you have tenant issues, those positives can quickly turn negative.

Problem tenants are not uncommon in causing serious damage to your rental property investment or falling behind on rent, resulting in a messy and costly legal battle. The eviction process can easily take three months or longer, resulting in lost revenue and building costs due to damage to your rental property.

Overview Of The Eviction Procedure

Consider the following scenario… You have a problem tenant who stopped paying their $1000 monthly rent in January. When you call, they apologize, explain some extenuating circumstances, and promise to pay by Monday. After a few days of silence, you decide to begin the eviction process. You have a solid lease that is in accordance with landlord-tenant laws and includes a standard state non-payment clause. This is how it will look:

  1. Notice to Resign. You will serve a 14-day notice of termination on weekdays only. You can serve it in person, but if this goes to court, your best option is to pay a constable to deliver the notice as a neutral third party to verify that it was served properly to the correct individual.
  2. Eviction Notice. When you have not received payment within the 14-day period, you will send an official notice of eviction known as a “summary process summons and complaint.” We have no choice but to have the constable deliver it this time.
  3. Filing for Eviction. You’ll go to court to file papers because your tenant hasn’t left yet. Of course, the law requires that the eviction process begin 7 to 30 days after the summons was served on a Monday. If you served on a Tuesday, you must wait 13 days before filing paperwork for your “entry date.”
  4. Call for Tenant Discovery. You could get a trial date within two weeks of moving in, but it’s safe to assume that problem tenants will request discovery. This automatically pushes things back for at least another two weeks, and you now need to hire an attorney.
  5. Mediation. You can choose to enter mediation after filing a discovery request. This is uncommon with tenants who refused to leave during previous notice periods. Even if you do mediate, your tenant will almost certainly make promises they can’t keep, and you’ll be back at step one in a matter of months.
  6. Trial. Your trial is scheduled for a few weeks from now. At this point, you owe two months’ rent that would have been due while you were completing all of this paperwork, as well as the rent payment you were already late on, as well as all legal fees incurred to date.
  7. Appeal. Your tenant can appeal the court’s decision within 10 days. If they do, expect several more weeks of waiting, discovery, and possibly new trial dates.
  8. Motion for Execution. This is a formal motion filed with the courts that is required to enforce eviction and conclude the court portion of the eviction process. The motion can take several days to be granted, and you’ll need to hire a constable to deliver the notice.
  9. Final Reminder. A 48-hour notice must be served on your tenant prior to the final eviction date. You will once again work with the constable to deliver this notice.
  10. The last day of eviction. You’ll arrive at the house (legally only Monday through Friday, never on a holiday) with a moving company, a sheriff or constable, and a locksmith or your handyman to replace the locks. If the tenant does not have a new address, you must have a storage facility for their belongings.

All told, it’s been at least 4 months and at least $7,500 in costs and lost income due to non-payment of rent. That, of course, assumes that the courts were not overburdened and deadlines were not missed, and that you were not trapped in a bad mediation agreement.

Other Ways to Enforce Eviction

For many landlords, liquidating property with problematic tenants is far more profitable than going through the traditional eviction process. Not only will you profit from the sale of your rental property investment, but you will also avoid all costs associated with the eviction process, such as lost income, valuable time wasted that could be better spent looking at new investment properties, and, most importantly, stress. A cash buyer will assume the tenants, including all legal fees, and take over the entire situation from you.