Common Eviction Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

by Chris on July 17, 2017

Eviction claims are difficult to navigate, and difficult to enforce. The process can take months and cause income loss, so it’s easy to lose sight of the finish line. Here are some steps landlords can take in advance that make the process a little more palatable — and a lot more effective:

The Endgame: Collecting a Judgement

Preparing for an eviction actually begins early, in the tenant screening process. The information that a landlord obtains from the rental applicant may be crucial when it comes to collecting a monetary judgement from the evicted tenant for unpaid rent or damage to the property.

That’s why it is so important to:

Demand a completed rental application with a declaration that the information is true and complete, signed by each adult applicant; and,

Verify that information to ensure that it is, in fact, true and complete.

The Blame Game and Keeping Track of the Property Condition

To the extent that the eviction involves unpaid rent — which evictions often do — expect that the tenant is going to deflect the blame and come up with excuses to justify not having paid rent. The most common excuse: the property was in bad condition and the landlord wouldn’t fix it.

Landlords can win this game by keeping a record of:

The condition of the property at the time the tenant moved in;
Any repair requests made by the tenant and the resolution, including the timeline for completing the repairs;
Damage noted or repairs made during routine property inspections;
Routine maintenance performed at the property;
Remodeling or construction projects that occurred during the tenancy; and
The current condition of the property, if that is known.

Failure to routinely inspect the property or make repairs in a timely fashion not only increases the risk of property damage, but makes it much more difficult to evict a problem tenant.

In addition, keep a record of all rent payments, including the date and method of payment. It is surprising how many tenants claim they paid rent in cash. A policy of providing rent receipts for each payment adds credibility to the landlord’s claim that rent is delinquent. An easy way to accomplish this is to sign up to Report Rent Payments with TVS. The tenant’s monthly rent history will be shared with Equifax Canada and added to the tenant’s consumer credit report. This system not only aids in recordkeeping, but also serves as an incentive for tenants to pay rent on time — which could eliminate the need for an eviction.

Twist and Shout: Keeping Emotion Out of It

A problem tenancy is extremely stressful, but a landlord’s angst and frustration work to the tenant’s advantage. The more the landlord expresses that anger, the easier it is for the tenant to twist the situation into one where the tenant is the victim. Landlords should:

Find a way to diffuse any anger, especially when dealing with officials processing the eviction;
Avoid unnecessarily personal or insulting language when dealing with the tenant, who may be trying to bait the landlord into saying something hostile; and
Track the communications and the facts in a calm, unemotional method that will translate into professionalism, not vindictiveness, when the information is presented during dispute resolution.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

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