Eviction is never the desired outcome when there is a problem with a tenant. As landlords are well aware, it can be time-consuming and nerve-wracking. It can also be extremely expensive to evict a tenant. Tenants can suffer irreparable harm when an eviction occurs, as well, including the risk of having their credit damaged and the inability to find another home to rent.
The best way to avoid the negative consequences of eviction is to preserve the landlord-tenant relationship from the beginning and ensure that a thorough tenant screening is conducted. While it can be tempting at times to skip certain steps in order to rent a unit more quickly, it is in the best interest of everyone to perform a proper screening and credit check.
With that said, even the best of tenants can experience unforeseen circumstances that can make it more difficult to pay the rent. Whether it is losing a job or unexpected medical bills, when a tenant stops paying the rent, you must understand your options.
First, it should be understood that even if the tenant has stopped paying the rent, in most states, landlords are required to follow a strict process and notify the tenant that eviction is impending. You should be aware that the tenant might well attempt to fight the eviction. If that is the case, it can draw out the process. This can result in even more expenses for you as the landlord.
Even in the event that you win, you then face the need to actually have the tenant removed from the property. Most states do not allow landlords to remove a tenant's belongings and put them out on the front lawn or the sidewalk. In most instances, you will need to contact the local law enforcement who will serve the tenants with a notice and provide them with several days in which to leave the property. If the tenants do not leave the property at that point, they may be removed by law enforcement.
As most landlords are well aware, it is not uncommon for tenants to leave behind personal belongings when they do finally leave the property. This means that you will need to know how to handle those belongings. Depending upon the state in which you live, you may be allowed to dispose of the property, but in many states, you are legally required to store the property and notify the tenant according to specifically outlined procedures. Some states even specify the amount of time that you must store the belongings. Storage costs are yet one more expense that a landlord must incur which is rarely recovered.
Along with those costs, landlords must also be concerned about the repairs and cleaning expenses that are necessary once a tenant is finally evicted. In the event that the tenant damaged the property due to anger over the eviction, those costs can far exceed the security deposit.
Pre-screening offers a method for helping landlords to significantly reduce the chance that an eviction will need to occur.