Even though roughly 3.6 million evictions happen every year in the United States, it’s never easy to put someone out of their home. We know it can downright tear at the heart of some landlords to have to be on the front lines of managing an eviction.
When there’s a crisis, the challenges of addressing evictions are compounded: The tenant may have fewer options and more reasons to fight the decision—and you may feel even worse knowing that the situation was entirely out of their control. This is why we always recommend alternatives to eviction in our role as Maryland property management before ever pushing forward with eviction as an option.
It's also worth noting that, in some situations, eviction may not even be an option at all for property owners to pursue if they need to protect their property. Here are some things to keep in mind when considering evictions during a crisis.
Please note: This article is not legal counsel. When in doubt, you should always reach out to your attorney or your Maryland property partners at Renters Warehouse!
Check the Status of Eviction Bans
An eviction ban can make it legally impossible to evict a tenant because they’re not paying their rent. We're seeing some very strict versions of this happening in Washington, D.C., right now!
- Eviction bans are designed to help tenants maintain a place to live when times get rough. During a crisis (especially a crisis of the magnitude we've seen from COVID-19), people often lose their jobs.
- The state or local municipality may then issue a moratorium on evicting people who can't—or don’t—pay their rent.
- These eviction bans typically last for a pre-determined amount of time, but they can be extended if the economic situation doesn’t improve.
However, when it comes to your Maryland property, even if evictions are restricted, you have other powerful means at your disposal for handling the loss of rent that a crisis can represent.
If evictions are on hold, documenting difficulties with tenants can help you if a situation requires future mediation from the courts—and could even prevent litigation in the first place. A tenant may be more likely to comply if they know you have a systematic documentation system. This applies to times of crisis as well.
You shouldn’t view documenting issues during a crisis as an overly draconian measure; it protects both you and the tenant! As Maryland property management experts, we've found that issues can often resolve themselves if the following things get documented:
- A tenant is late paying their rent, or they miss a month altogether—and refuse payment plans.
- A tenant creates a disturbance by violating a noise curfew for the property or a local noise ordinance.
- Someone calls the police on one of your tenants.
- You witness the tenant abusing drugs or engaging in illegal activity.
- A tenant acts aggressively, making you or someone else feel unsafe.
- A tenant refuses to comply with your right to examine the home.
The purpose of documenting issues isn’t necessarily to “build a case.” Documenting issues during a crisis helps avoid miscommunications and can provide a foundation for productive conversations concerning challenges.
Don’t Stop Sending Notices
- Even if you can’t evict due to a moratorium, you should still send professional notices about rent payments regularly.
- Unless you agree—in writing—to allow the tenant to stay on the property for free, you have every right to expect your rental payments—if not now, shortly.
- If you don’t send notices, the tenant may assume you never expect to get the rent or that their rental obligations during the crisis no longer matter.
Sending notices helps ensure clearer communication around your expectations. If a tenant misses a payment and presumes it doesn’t have to be made, there may be more friction when they find out the opposite is true.
This doesn’t mean you have to issue the same kinds of notices you did before the crisis! It’s always a good idea to include sympathetic language—as long as you communicate.
Evict After the Crisis Is Over
Now and then, a tenant may manage to avoid paying rent by taking advantage of a rental eviction moratorium. If this happens, you can always just wait until the crisis is over and evict then. It would be best to give your tenant a heads up in advance, perhaps even stipulating the date for the eviction long in advance. For example, if the moratorium is set to end in a few months, you can issue an eviction notice for the day after it is scheduled to end.
This can get tricky in the event that a moratorium is extended, so before you pursue any of these avenues, it's best to consult your legal counsel or a Maryland property management professional.
Get Help From a Professional
Navigating the eviction waters can get tricky—especially during a crisis! At Renters Warehouse BW Metro, we have the experience and know-how to make the process much easier. We even offer our exceptional Eviction Protection Plan to safeguard your investment.
However, as we mentioned before, you may be able to avoid an eviction altogether by applying the kind of knowledge found in our Collecting Rent in a Crisis Handbook. Get your copy today!