No matter how diligently you’ve screened your tenants, you’re bound to eventually get a bad one. Bad tenants tend to violate one of two things: the rent or the lease. We’ve outlined the steps a landlord should take when handling either non-paying or lease-violating tenants below.
- If your tenant is struggling to pay their rent, you want to move quickly and compassionately to either get the tenant back on track with payment or get them moved out of the property. While it’s a hard conversation to have with your tenant, you as the landlord need to be proactive in this situation. Give the tenant a call or physically visit the property to find out what’s keeping them from paying on time.
- Set a clear policy in place detailing when rent is due, when it’s considered late, how you enforce the late fee and when you serve and begin the processing of a 3-day legal eviction process. If the lease agreement states that rent is due on the 1st of the month and you have a 3-day grace period, if you still haven’t received payment on the 4th you can begin the eviction process.
- You will need to physically serve the property with a legal, state-required 3-day notice to pay. Ideally, the tenant will pay the rent amount within this window. Colorado law states that in this scenario you’re legally required to accept. If, after the 3-day window, you still have not received payment, you’re no longer required to accept payment and can initiate the next phase of the eviction process.
- It’s strongly advised to involve an attorney who can set a court date with a judge to grant possession of the property back to you for nonpayment of rent. Best-case scenario, the tenant doesn’t appear in court. If they do, they can file an answer and request a court date.
TIP: Adhere to the terms of your lease agreement! Don’t get in the habit of accepting late payments. By doing so, you’re potentially foregoing your legal ability to charge a late fee or maintain the status of rent being due on a set date.
- A strong lease agreement is essential. Outline the tenant’s responsibilities and consequences for not abiding to their responsibilities in the lease. You probably don’t want to evict your tenant for an overgrown lawn, but major neglect or negligence on the property should be addressed immediately.
- Weigh the time remaining on the lease. If the expiration is in the range of 60 days or less, don’t go through the eviction process. Save yourself time and money and give the tenant a notice of non-renewal stating that at expiration, you will not be offering a lease renewal.
As a professional real estate investor, your goal when handling either situation is to make the process as painless as possible for both parties. Ideally, you want to work with the tenant to get back on good standing or move out, while also mitigating the time, expenses and damages associated with eviction. If you’re self-managing, you should engage an attorney or even a reputable property manager to help you navigate through this process as smoothly as possible.
QUESTION: I self manage a rental property in Arvada and I think my tenant skipped out and it appears they are gone but they left some personal property behind, can I throw it out?
ANSWER: STOP and proceed with caution! Your residential lease agreement should have a clause that addresses abandonment. Unless you are 100% certain that your tenant has legally vacated the property, it is best to continue with the legal eviction process to ensure the tenant does not come back later and sue you for an illegal eviction. Contact an attorney or an Arvada property management firm for help.
Have questions? Give us a call, 303-255-1990.