Evicting a resident can prove to be a challenge in even the best of times—and we are certainly still facing unusual times in the Columbia rental market in the wake of COVID-19.
If you have a Columbia property management team on your side, you don’t have to worry about following the right legal process or renter’s rights. Our team at Renters Warehouse BW Metro does that for you.
However, if you plan to tackle this sensitive issue yourself, we’ll provide you with some key insights that may make the following a far less stressful experience for you as a property owner. It's worth noting that a thorough tenant screening process (one of the many things we tackle as part of our comprehensive property management services) will often prevent this issue from ever happening.
After you address the problems you're facing now, it's worth it to go back and examine your screening and tenant placement process thoroughly to fix any gaps.
Keep in mind that this information is not legal counsel. We highly encourage you to work with an experienced attorney if you’re not handling this process via full-service property management.
Why Should You Evict a Renter?
There are various times when you may be able to evict a renter. Right now, in 2020, make sure you take the steps you need to when it comes to following both local laws at the Maryland level and national laws that are limiting evictions. There may even be legal guidelines imposed right here in Columbia that you have to be aware of as a property owner.
Some legal reasons to evict (based on the terms you've outlined in your lease) may include:
- Renters not paying rent when living conditions are habitable (yes, you MUST stay on top of maintenance issues and maintenance requests as a property owner) and terms are met
- The lease may be expiring, and as a property owner, you may choose not to renew, but the renter refuses to move out
- A violation of the lease may occur when the renter fails to meet the terms of the agreement in some way. This may include:
- Having long-term house guests that have not completed the screening process
- Illegally using the space or breaking the law with drug-related offenses
- Running a business on the property that has not been permitted
- (Make sure your lease specifies what is allowed)
- Significant damage to your rental property for some reason, such as intentional destruction.
Don’t evict for reasons that could amount to nothing more than renter discrimination! For example, if your renter happens to be a hoarder, that may seem like a good reason to evict. However, they may challenge this in court, given that hoarding is now protected under the ADA.
When in doubt, it's best to reach out to your attorney or a trusted Columbia property management company to ensure you're in the right when you decide to move forward on an eviction.
What to Do if You Need to Evict a Renter
In situations where you find yourself needing to evict a renter, make sure that your attempts to communicate about the issue at hand have been well-documented and that you are legally within your rights.
- Get everything in writing: Make sure you document everything that occurs and the details of the eviction.
- Use photos whenever possible to document evidence.
- Proper lease termination: Follow the terms in your lease to properly terminate the lease.
- This may require a set time.
- If your renter does not move in that time-frame, proceed from there.
- Hire an attorney: Make sure you have an attorney who can help you file the eviction correctly with the local court system.
- You never want to do this on your own.
- Mistakes here can get very expensive for property owners in the Columbia area.
- Head to court: Make sure you’re at the court hearing (or your attorney is).
- Work with local law enforcement: If removal is required, NEVER handle this on your own.
- Local law enforcement (like a sheriff) will be assigned to remove the person from the property.
- In most cases, this will not happen.
- Change out the locks after move-out is complete: Rekey the locks as needed to remove access to the property.
- NEVER retaliate against your current renters' behavior by changing the locks.
How to Avoid This Painful Rental Property Pitfall
There may be a time that eviction has to occur. That’s not a rule, though. Many people will be able to rent their single-family homes and multi-family units in Columbia without having to deal with a costly or time-consuming eviction process.
One way to avoid this kind of drama from the start is something we touched on above: thoroughly screen your renters! This part of the application process ensures you’re renting to the right people. Even if you don't want to work with Columbia property management services to handle this process, their insight can be invaluable when it comes to protecting you as a property owner.
- Improving your tenant screening process is at the heart of avoiding evictions.
- Good communication and a solid relationship with your renters also matters.
- When the time comes to evict, you'll want to have professionals on your side to help you.
- Aside from an attorney, our Rent Estate™ Advisors can be there to support you through this process.
What Should You Do Now? Get Help as Soon as Possible!
We recommend turning to full-service property management immediately to avoid this situation and to have help dealing with it if you currently find yourself in the middle of a storm. Get started by downloading your FREE copy of our Eviction Checklist to get started and begin protecting yourself as a property owner now.