Q: What do you do when a tenant lives at your property for 5 years, no late payments and then all of sudden they get laid off work? Do you evict them right away? – TVS Landlord
There is no doubt that the eviction process takes a toll on landlords. Those facing the prospect of evicting a tenant often are advised to act as soon as possible to get the wheels rolling so that the property can be recovered quickly, and profitability restored.
The issue here, though, is whether a landlord in this situation has grounds to evict the tenant. While we know this tenant was recently laid off, we do not know that he or she is unable to continue to pay the rent.
The allowable reasons for pursuing an eviction are limited and specific. While these rules vary from state to state, universally they include a tenant’s failure to pay rent, breaching some provision of the rental agreement, or breaking the law, for instance, placing others in danger.
It is unlikely any eviction court would sustain a “preemptive” eviction on the landlord’s assumption that a recently-unemployed tenant will not be able to continue to pay the rent for the remaining term of the lease. That reason would have to be present at the time the eviction is filed, not by the time the landlord gets into court.
In this case, it is unclear whether the tenant has sufficient savings, unemployment benefits, credit, or a charitable relative that will keep the rent flowing while they seek a new job. While being unemployed may be a good reason to reject this individual as a rental applicant, this condition may not be a breach of the lease agreement, so long as the tenant finds a way to continue to pay the rent.
The situation would be different if the tenant is notifying the landlord that they anticipate defaulting on the rent. In that case, though, an eviction may not be necessary, nor the most cost-effective approach. A better resolution may be to negotiate an early termination. That will leave the tenant’s credit intact, and allow the landlord to recover the property much faster.
Another possible twist: this tenant is on a month-to-month lease. It may be possible to terminate that lease with proper notice to the tenant. But the landlord will have to evaluate whether they are turning away a quality tenant who has the resources to continue on, or who may find another job any day.
What would you do in this situation?
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).
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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.