Have deadbeat tenants that refuse to pay rent or keep breaking your lease and making life difficult for your other renters?
Deni & Brian walk through four ways to speed up the eviction process… plus three bonus tips for removing bad tenants.
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Brian: Hey, guys. Happy Tuesday. Brian Davis and Deni Supplee here from Spark Rental.
Deni: Hey, everyone, how are you?
Brian: And, yeah, it’s been. I mean, Deni, I feel like I’ve been sick for, like, a month now with, like, four different bugs, but apparently, I’m not alone in that. Apparently, that’s. That’s half of the world, you know, not even just Brasilia, where we are. But Deni has told me that it’s rampant in Philadelphia, where she is, too, so.
Deni: Yeah, big time.
Brian: All right. Anyway, enough of all that talk. So last week we had John Maxim on the show. Very accomplished real estate investor. He is 44, but he reached financial independence years ago back in his thirties. And he talked all about how he did that through a combination of flipping houses and rental properties. And he also does commercials, and it was a great conversation with him. Definitely recommend you guys go back and check that out if you are interested in replacing your day job with real estate income, which he did.
Deni: He was I love hearing stories about that.
Brian: I do, too. I mean, not only is it inspirational and motivates you to do better and to learn more, but he also got into some of the details about how he did that. So, it’s educational in addition to being motivational.
Deni: Yeah, big time. Don’t forget to let us know where you’re tuning in from. If you have any questions, throw them in the chat. This is a pretty obviously comfortable show.
Brian: Right. Super laid-back show here. So, yeah. Let us know what your questions as we go. It’s a conversational show. We want to hear from you guys as we go. So today we’re talking about four ways to speed up the eviction process. You know, this is something that has been more on our minds over the last two years than it was ever before that given the eviction moratorium. Which, Deni you and I have talked a little bit about this, but I truly believe that that was a dangerous precedent for the US government to set. And I find it very disturbing as a real estate investor and as a landlord, that the government can just step in at any time and say, all right, your legal contracts that you have with the other party is now only one way enforceable.
Deni: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that what I’m seeing out there now is, you know, the evictions are happening now. And there’s some there is still some money that people can get, but some people can’t, and they’re being evicted. And it’s going to create a whole new issue out there. And, yeah, it was just a bad situation.
Brian: Well, so what happens in a year from now when we do enter a recession, is the government going to step in again and create another eviction moratorium because we’re in a recession and because unemployment rates go up? I think if you ask me that question two and a half years ago, I would have said no. The government would never step in in a recession and freeze all evictions. Now, I think that that’s a legitimate concern that landlords should have. So anyway, all of which is getting a little bit beside the point. So today we’re going to talk about four ways to speed up the eviction process. Actually, more like seven ways, because there are three bonus ideas that we’re going to offer as well. But without further ado, so the first way here, the first two ways are really about getting out of your own way as a landlord. So, do not under any circumstances offer extensions to your tenants if they fall behind on rent or if they violate your lease in other ways? Serve the eviction warning notice immediately after the grace period ends, and then after that second grace period ends that the eviction warning notice gives them to file in court immediately.
Deni: And you know what? If you take money, it can in certain states, it can just you have to go back to square one.
Brian: Are you talking about partial payments?
Brian: Yeah. So that is a concern. If your tenant owes you $3,000 in back rents and you accept $1,000 from them. In some jurisdictions, some states, and some cities, requires you as a landlord to go back and restart the eviction process from scratch. So once a tenant falls behind, you actually don’t. If you are in some of those states now, if you’re not, then go ahead and take partial payments. If you are in a state where you have to restart the eviction process from scratch, if you take a partial payment, do not accept anything less than the full back amount owed.
Deni: Absolutely. And this is where knowing and that’s one of the things that leads me to the second one. I guess the second reason, or second way is to make sure, you know, I know it’s boring and who wants to read the laws o about the laws. But if you’re not going to get an attorney and a lot of people don’t want to, then know your laws, know the exact procedures that you have to follow because it just takes one, one wrong word in a notice or one thing that you say to the tenant that can be completely misconstrued. And you have to either start all over again or it just messes it up and you have a tenant staying an extra month or whatever.
Brian: Yeah. So, the second, the second thing here Deni alluded to is don’t screw up, right? Because one misstep on your part and you go back to square one. So that starts with using the correct eviction notice. There is specific language that has to be included in every single state and not just for one template eviction notice. Within that state, there are different template eviction notices and different language that has to be included depending on the specific violation that the tenant had. So, if the tenant falls behind on rent, there’s a different language that has to be included as opposed to them violating a different lease clause. So that’s the first thing. So, we do offer free eviction notices for all 50 states and different scenarios, back rent, other lease violations we offer those for free on our site included a link to that in the comments. You know.
Deni: Also, I’m just going to interject this. If you live in places like or you’re renting out in Chicago or Baltimore, those places require even different or stricter notices. So, you want to make sure. That, you know, you’re using the proper ones for those, too. And a lot of those cities provide samples or whatnot.
Brian: Yeah, some tenant-friendly cities have their own laws that are even more restrictive. So yeah, when you go to the hearing, you need to show up on time, dress professionally, but bring all evidence to the hearing. If you don’t bring every single shred of evidence that you have, the judge may well side with the tenant, or at least delay the eviction. Judges love to delay evictions. They look for excuses to delay evictions. So, you cannot give them any excuses to delay the eviction. So, when they ask you for any evidence whatsoever to verify your claim, you need to be prepared to produce it.
Deni: And to be honest, I minimize when I have a tenant who I know that eviction is coming, I minimize phone calls because that’s he said she said, and they twist and turn them. And it’s better just to put everything in writing. Even if you’re texting, you can at least get copies of that.
Brian: Yeah. So, email works. There’s also our landlord software has a messaging and communication feature that tracks all of the communication between you and the tenant. Right. And as part of this umbrella of Don’t Screw Up, you don’t want to do a self-help eviction, as they say, that’s anything that can be construed as you strong arming the tenant to leave the apartment or the rental property. So that includes things like shutting off utilities or barricading the entrance, changing the locks, or also deferring maintenance as leverage or a way to pressure the tenant into paying the rent. You can’t do any of that. It’s all illegal. If the judge finds out about it, your eviction case gets thrown out, period.
Deni: It’s funny because I’ve heard this said before, you know, you don’t pay your electric bill, the electric company just shuts you off. But if you include the electric and your rental and you shut it off, you’re in big boo boo trouble.
Brian: It’s one more reason why landlords should not include utilities in the rent where possible. Because you will be on the hook for paying those utility bills even if your tenant is not paying your rent. So, you then are paying for their services. All right. The third way to speed up the eviction process is to prove criminal behavior on the part of your tenant. In many cases, this allows for an expedited eviction process. Now, even if even in cases, even in states or jurisdictions where there is not an expedited eviction process, you can still evict the tenant for violating the criminal activity clause in your lease, even if they are current on their rents. You can still that’s still grounds for eviction if they are conducting criminal activity in the leased premises. And we’ll share a link to our lease agreement package there. We have lease agreements for all 50 states, and it does include a criminal activity clause. That’s a really important lease clause. Deni and I feel like we talk all the time about lease clauses and how important it is for landlords to take leases seriously.
Brian: But it’s true your lease is a legal shield, and you need to include all of these sorts of protective clauses that most landlords never think about. So anyway, fourth way to speed up the eviction process. No landlord likes to hear this, but cash for keys is an option. You can bribe your tenants to leave. It sticks in your craw, you know, but it is sometimes the cheapest option, especially in tenant-friendly jurisdictions, to just offer them a few hundred bucks or whatever it is to be out this Saturday at noon or whatever it is. But that is an important point, actually, is that you need to put a very fast time limit and a very concrete time limit on it. You know, something like if you agree to if you are out of the unit entirely by this Saturday at noon, then I will meet you there and give you X amount of money. And you should also include a stipulation that they have to leave the unit in pristine condition.
Deni: And do not give them the money until they’re out.
Brian: Absolutely. So those should be the two conditions for them getting the money out by a very specific date in time. That is pretty soon. Right. Or else it defeats the purpose, and the unit is in perfect move-out condition in the exact same cleanliness level as when they moved in.
Deni: Now Rebecca is asking how much of a bribe is typically needed to put them out one month rent?
Brian: I mean, one month’s rent. Sounds like a lot to me, but it just depends on the situation. It depends on how long the eviction process takes in your jurisdiction. You know, in areas where evictions move pretty quickly. Cash for keys is not really something you need to consider necessarily in jurisdictions where evictions move at the pace of molasses. You know, that’s the more money you’re probably going to have to or the more money it’s worth offering in order to get them out quickly and to leave the property in good condition, because that is a risk to the eviction, is that they’ll trash your property.
Deni: And you want to weigh it out. I mean, if you go to court and if you are going to hire an attorney, maybe they’re going to do more damage. So, you want to take all that into consideration when you’re thinking about that amount, you know, because like, for instance, in Philadelphia, I had an eviction. I had a professional tenant who worked the system, and she was there for a year without paying rent. And it was a nightmare. And I had I thought about doing the cash for keys I would have. And in that case, I would have definitely offered a month for her to get out. It would have been cheaper.
Brian: Yeah. Know I’ve had tenants in Baltimore City super tenant friendly jurisdiction that yeah. It took me 11 months to get them out, you know, they know every loophole in the book. They know how to tug on judges’ heartstrings and get them to prolong the eviction process. So, you know, it’s a judgment call on your part, but, you know, it really depends on how fast evictions take in your jurisdiction, which raises a broader point beyond these four ways to speed up the eviction process to not invest in tenant-friendly jurisdictions. And it’s something we harp on all the time. But it’s so true. I mean, I will never, ever buy a rental property in a tenant-friendly state or city again. I’ve been burned too many times in tenant-friendly areas like Baltimore. Like Philadelphia, Chicago, LA and San Francisco.
Deni: A lot of especially newbie investors, like to do it because it’s cheaper. In the cities, you can get properties in the city for pretty much cheaper than like the suburbs. So, they gravitate to that, and they don’t realize it could cost a lot later on because of all the stringent rules and regulations that are, you know, for the tenant.
Brian: And you know, I certainly don’t want to go down a political rabbit hole here, but most investors live in large cities. Large cities tend to be pretty blue and pretty tenant friendly. So, a lot of investors will invest in their home city where they’re familiar with major cities, and tend to have more tenant protective laws, anti-landlord laws. We do not recommend investing anywhere with anti-landlord laws, tenant protective laws. And Deni you did add a link there in the chat to our interactive map of the worst cities and states for landlords where to avoid investing basically.
Deni: And Cristina mentioned New York, which is.
Brian: Oh yeah.
Deni: A tough one. Yeah.
Brian: New York City. Terrible place to invest. From a law perspective, legal perspective. And you have low cap rates there. Anyway, I actually have no idea why anyone would invest in New York City right now anyway, but that’s another can of worms. All right. So, two other ideas here as far as evictions. One other thing you can do is you can non renew tenants who have not technically violated your lease but who make life difficult for you in some other way. Maybe they’re really disruptive to your other tenants like the neighbors. Maybe they’re loud, maybe they’re dirty, but not so dirty that you can prove it in a court of law. You know, some tenants are just bad tenants, but they haven’t explicitly broken your lease. So, you know, you don’t want to lose your other tenants who are good tenants, right? Like the neighbors over a loud, disruptive, dirty tenant. So, in those cases just non-renew them when their lease comes up for renewal. Now that being said, in certain very tenant friendly jurisdictions, like many places in California, for example, they actually have these really goofy laws about, quote, no cause evictions, which is how they’ve tried to rebrand it to sound like this menacing thing, which is really just landlords nonrenewing a lease contract when it comes up for renewal. So once again, don’t invest in tenant-friendly jurisdictions. I mean it’s.
Deni: You can also go month to month and take your fixed term lease and go month to month because at least then you’re not stuck, you know, then you just give them 30 days or whatever it is and that’s it.
Brian: Yeah. And then the other thing you can do is you can raise the rent, right? So that’s something that you can do with tenants who you don’t, who aren’t particularly good tenants, but you’re not so desperate to get them out that you’re willing to evict them or not renew them. You could just raise the rents so significantly that, you know, if they agree to it and pay it, then you’re willing to keep them around and live with them. Or if they decide not to renew based on the higher rents, then you can bring in better tenants who treat your property better, treat the neighbors better, pay their rent on time every month, etc. Right. But you do need to watch out. There are some again, tenant-friendly cities or states that do have regulations in place about how much you can raise the rent each year. For example, some cities limit you to a 5% rent increase per year, which at times like this, when you’ve got inflation raging at eight and a half percent, wouldn’t even cover the inflation and the loss of the value of the dollar. So, you know, yeah, again, don’t invest in tenant-friendly areas.
Deni: I mean, if you’re you know, I know Kristina, she likes New York and obviously everything has its place. But especially if you’re a fairly new investor, you don’t want to go into those places where it’s really hard to navigate.
Brian: Yeah, absolutely. All right, Deni, any other thoughts that you want to add in here before we wrap this up?
Deni: Most of the states have anti-harassment laws when it comes to landlords, so be very careful about calling them non-stop and texting them nonstop because that could be construed in these days and ages, especially in a tenant-friendly place as harassment. And that’s a nightmare. So don’t do that.
Brian: That’s a great point. So just to summarize and recap here, so 4 ways to speed up the eviction process. First, don’t offer extensions, right? Get out of your own way here. Second, don’t screw up the rules of the eviction process. You have to follow very specific rules in this filing. The right eviction notice, bringing all the evidence to the hearing, don’t do stuff up evictions, don’t harass the tenant. Don’t defer maintenance. Three, you can prove criminal behavior and expedite the eviction process that way in many places. And four cash, for keys. And the broader point, invest in landlord-friendly, investor-friendly jurisdictions. All right. On that note, we will see you guys’ next Tuesday. Stay in touch. Let us know what topics you want to hear about moving forward. And we will see you guys’ next week.
Brian: All right.
Deni: We do have somebody that said beware of activist judges to our laws in Virginia aren’t too bad, but a local GDC judge is openly flouting the law and there’s very little recourse. So same.
Brian: Yeah. No, there are a lot of judges out there are very tenant friendly and they are looking for excuses to delay the eviction process.
Deni: And to be honest with you, I’m just going to throw this in there because it’s a true story really quick. I managed a large, complex apartment complex in a small little town, and its district court judge was a butcher.
Brian: A literal butcher-like.
Deni: Yeah, yeah. Seriously? No. Yeah, he was. That was he.
Brian: Owned a butcher shop.
Deni: Right, and this was like his side thing and we’re expecting them. I mean. Yeah, so just be careful because you never know.
Brian: Yeah. It’s on you to be educated as a landlord about the laws and especially about the eviction process. So, on that note, stay in touch. Message us over Facebook. Email us at [email protected] We’ll see you next week.
Deni: Bye bye.