Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Eviction 101: For Property Managers

As a property owner, you know that it is very important to find the perfect residents for your rental properties. Have you ever stopped to think, what happens if I was wrong? Just how hard is it to get a bad tenant out of my rental unit? While it varies from state to state, in most cases the process of eviction is long and arduous. Jason Cohen Pittsburgh knows how to protect yourself and your company while also maintaining the rights of your tenants by following several rules.

Even before you have a resident, you must consider eviction and the process of eviction. When creating the lease agreement, include sections explaining when and why you, as the property owner, have the right to evict a tenant. A violation of the rules and regulations in the lease is a reason to begin the eviction procedure. Obviously, failure to pay rent and regular late payment are two major reasons to evict a tenant. If the tenant is willfully destroying the property, you also have a case for eviction.

The first step in the process is giving the tenant written notice. If the reason for eviction is failure to pay rent, or breaking the lease by having an illegal roommate or pet, you may want to serve a “Notice to Quit” in place of the eviction notice. A “Notice to Quit”, allows the resident a period, such as 10 days, to correct the wrong. If the tenant has broken the lease to the point that a correction will not be offered, the tenant must be given a 30-day notice to leave if the lease is for a year or less. A 90-day notice is issued for leases that are longer than a year. This notice must include certain information in order to be legal — the date of the notice, the name and address of the tenant’s rental unit, the reason for the notice, the time period for correction, the date of eviction, and a statement detailing how the notice was given to the tenant. If essential information is omitted, the notice is not valid and the process must start over.

Rules are in place for getting the notice to quit or evict to the tenant as well. Oddly, you cannot mail this notice. The property owner or a representative at least 18 years old can deliver the notice. If it cannot be given directly to the resident, the notice can posted on the tenant’s door of the rental unit or somewhere else where the tenant will be sure to see it. Be sure to make sure it is conspicuous.  The notice cannot be hidden, covered, or placed in the mailbox. If the notice is not delivered properly, the notice is not valid and the process must begin again.

The next step depends greatly on the resident’s reaction to the notice. If the notice demanded a correction to illicit behavior and the tenant corrects this wrong, the tenant cannot be evicted. For example, if the notice gives the tenant 10 days to pay the late rent, and the tenant pays the rent, the tenant cannot be evicted. This also holds true for illegal pets or roommates. If a correction was not offered, the best-case scenario is that the tenant vacates the premises within the notice period. 

If the resident does not comply with the eviction, the property owner must file a complaint. The complaint will result in a hearing. Until the hearing is held and the decision is made, the tenant will still be in the rental unit. At this point, the tenant can file a counter-complaint, which will also be considered at the hearing. If you, as the landlord, win the case, you will receive a judgment for possession. However, you must wait no less than 15 days to have a constable or sheriff give the resident an “Order for Possession”.  Issuing an “Order for Possession” informs the tenant that, after a set date on the notice, the constable or sheriff will forcibly remove the tenant and the belongings from the unit. The set date must be at least 15 days from the notice.

When reviewing the procedure for eviction, it can be shocking how long it can take to remove a problem resident. Even though the procedure does not seem fair from a landlord’s perspective, it is the law. In order to avoid these proceedings, Jason Cohen Pittsburgh knows that it is essential to find the proper residents.

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