Common Eviction Mistakes by Landlords
If you rent or lease property to another party, sooner or later you are likely to fall into situations where you have to evict some tenants for failing to pay rent.
Evicting a tenant can be unpleasant, costly, and time-consuming. But it’s worth it to spend the money on an eviction lawyer so your property can start generating income again. If you hire a skilled eviction attorney, you can avoid the trouble of doing a time-consuming eviction process yourself. Also, you may shorten the time it takes to get your rental unit back to being an income-making property, not an income-losing property.
State law sets out how evictions proceed. The attorneys at Express Evictions are foremost experts in California evictions and get evictions done in the quickest time possible under the law.
They are experts in preparing and serving eviction notices, filing documents at the courthouse, collecting evidence, and presenting testimony in a trial. All these steps must be done correctly, according to California state laws known as the Unlawful Detainer Statutes.
- Eviction by Illegal Methods
You might be tempted to use pressure or threaten to get a tenant out. You might want to try to make it too miserable for the tenant to live there instead of evicting using the proper method. We highly recommend against this. Any eviction method you use outside the California statutes may come back later to cause you a lot of trouble and cost you money.
Here are some methods some landlords try that but they should not:
- Cutting the utilities, so the tenant does not have water, gas or electricity. Also, you cannot cut any services to the property, even cable TV or Internet.
- Changing the locks so the tenant’s keys do not work, thereby locking the tenants out of the rental unit.
- Removing windows or doors.
- Throwing the tenant’s belongings in the garbage or hiding them somewhere.
- Harassment or threatening of the tenant in an attempt to get them to move out.
These types of tactics are all illegal and can be costly mistakes. As the landlord, you can also be arrested for these types of activities. Using illegal methods to force a tenant to vacate can even amount to criminal behavior. It’s a crime to force a tenant out unless you do it according to lawful eviction processes.
If a landlord uses unlawful methods to evict a tenant, he may be subject to civil liability to the tenant for damages. Fines can total $100 per day or more for the time that the landlord used the unlawful methods.
- Failed to Give Proper Notice
The first thing you need to do is write up and serve an Eviction Notice, this is a Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. If you fail to give proper notice that you are seeking to evict a tenant, your case cannot go ahead in court. This notice tells the tenant that you are going to start an eviction process, and it explains to the tenant the reason that you are evicting them.
A 3-day notice for paying rent or leaving the unit is used by any landlord to advise that the tenant must pay overdue rent within three days. If the tenant does not comply with the announcement, the landlord may file an Unlawful Detainer action or lawsuit in court to regain possession of the property.
This 3-Day Eviction Notice is usually served on a tenant after the rent has become past due according to dates outlined in the lease or rental agreement. Typically, rent is scheduled to be paid on the first day of the month and is considered delinquent on the second day. Some landlords charge a late fee if the tenant is unable to pay by the third or fifth day of the month.
- Not Having Sufficient Evidence in Court
If you have to appear in court to ask for a Judgment and Writ of Possession to evict a tenant, be prepared with all your documents and evidence because the trial will move quickly. Evidence may include letters, emails, text messages, etc. between you and the tenant. Having insufficient evidence is one of the big mistakes landlords make when pursuing evictions against bad tenants.
A landlord can go to court and make oral claims about non-payment of rent, but these claims should be bolstered by bank or other documents. Keep in mind that the Plaintiff’s burden is to prove their case, and the landlord is the Plaintiff. Also, you need to have all written records, including bank statements and tenant ledgers with you. Your case will be considered weak unless you provide the court with documentary evidence.
On the day of trial, landlords should have copies of the following with copies for themselves, the defense and the court:
- The lease agreement with the tenant’s signature
- The notice to pay rent or quit, or the notice to vacate based on another reason
- Bank statements or tenant ledgers
- Photographs or videos that show the damage you are claiming the tenant caused
- Any written agreement between the landlord and tenant
- Evidence from neighbors of the tenant if they lodged any complaints
If you come to court without the right paperwork or convincing evidence, a judge could rule against you. This will seem wrong to you if your charges of non-payment of rent or property damage are correct. And it will delay the time it takes to return your property to a profit-maker again. It may well pay to have a lawyer help you evict a problem tenant.