Evictions are never an easy process. Ultimately, you are dealing with someone who has done something to warrant an extreme action that removes them from your property through legal action. These decisions can weigh heavily on a landlord/property owner and are often met with a strong reaction.
One such reaction is when a tenant simply refuses to vacate the property. Upfront, you’re dealing with a tenant who warranted eviction in the first place so there’s already been some issue that brought you to this moment. It’s important to go about this process properly before taking the next steps that involve law enforcement.
Find a Mutual Agreement With the Tenant
Evictions are a last resort. These actions require a provable reason and cannot violate the Fair Housing Act (we covered exceptions recently. When you take these steps, you’ll need to get a summons from the county the tenant is in and then the tenant will be given time to respond.
If the tenant decided to contest the eviction then they won’t have to vacate until a judgment is handed down one way or the other. During this time, or even after, you may consider finding mutually agreeable terms with the tenant. Consider possibilities such as:
- Allowing them to stay and pay rent for a determined period of time
- Settling any unpaid rent at a lower amount
- Filing a “Seven Day Notice to Cure” which gives the tenant seven days to remedy any issues at the property
If you’ve already reached the decision to evict then it’s unlikely any of these options will suffice, but these are steps to consider before the eviction process begins or to negotiate while the eviction is being contested.
Getting the Authorities Involved
Short of a mutual agreement that settles the situation, you may need to get law enforcement involved. You do not have the right to forcibly remove a tenant nor are you permitted to turn off utilities or remove locks from the doors. Anything that puts the tenant at immediate risk can be considered a liability that you’re responsible for.
Once you’ve received an eviction judgment from the courts, it will be up to law enforcement to see the tenant out. The process will be relatively straightforward: the tenant will be given a date that they must be out of the property by. If the tenant is not out by that date then law enforcement officers will come to the property and remove the tenant.
Nobody wants it to get to this point. It’s often an ugly situation and tensions with law enforcement can create worse problems than you started with. If you have a problem tenant or need help navigating the eviction process, contact Atlas Law.