This is the first installment in a blog series looking at different types of evictions and what an owner can expect while going through the process.
NOTE: We are not giving legal advice and only expressing what we believe to be a best practice. We strongly recommend you speak to attorney before taking any steps to eviction someone.
When it comes to Property Management this is many owner's greatest fear.
What if they don’t pay?
What if they won’t leave?
What if they destroy the house from the inside out?
These are common questions I get asked in my day-to-day meetings.
First, I want to ease your mind on evictions. They are not common, less than 1% of Sleep Sounds properties face eviction each year. They can also be largely prepared for or prevented through due diligence during the leasing and screening process. While their consequences can be large it's not as large of a gamble as some may think, you have power here.
Nonpayment evictions are generally a slam dunk from a owners perspective. You have documentation of rent not being paid when it should be and that gives you something to stand on when you need to file. If rent is not received by midnight on the 4th then a late fee will be assessed to give the deadline some force. If a tenant has failed to pay that rent by the 8th then Sleep Sound will send out a 72-hour notice of non-payment.
Upon receiving this notice 90% of tenants pay, for the other 10% you face a few options.
Do you allow the tenant to set up a payment plan?
Do you give them more time to pay the full sum?
Or do you evict?
Arguments can be made for all three and are largely reliant on your previous history with the tenant.
Let's say you decide to evict; deliver the tenant a 72-hour notice in person or send it via first-class mail. Once this has been received the tenant will have 72-hours to pay or vacate the premise, if you use first class mail be sure that you account for 4-days grace for the delivery. If they refuse or fail to pay then you will want to file a summons and a complaint against the tenant.
Assuming the defendant shows to the trial and loses the judge will give the Plaintiff a judgement. From there the Plaintiff can file of a restitution, essentially a order to the defendant to vacate the property or face removal. If the tenant fails to vacate by this day then you will file for a Writ of Execution. This tells the court that the tenant has failed to vacate and orders them to enforce the restitution and remove the tenant from the premise.
The previous example assumes a tenant who has been combative and unresponsive/unwilling to pay rent. Let's say the tenant is more communicative and has a good track record with you, perhaps they recently had an accident and are short on money for the current month but they expect to be back on track and able to work again next month. If you have thoroughly screened the tenant and this would be a first or second time offense for them it may make sense to show good faith and set up a payment plan.
This plan is enforced through a stipulated agreement. Your opportunity to enact this agreement comes at your first appearance in court, after you have filed your summons and complaint . At first appearance your attorneys will attempt to reach an agreement, the product of this agreement is a stipulation.
Make sure you make this agreement at your first appearance with your and the tenant’s attorneys present, as any agreement you make for payment should be enforceable by law or it has no teeth to it. The stipulation allows you to be cooperative and compassionate to the tenants situation if you desire to be so, yet also allows you to draw a hard line if you need to.
Let's say the terms of your stipulation are that you are to give the tenant 3-month to pay back all missed rent, late fees, and court fees. If the tenant performs then you are back on track with consistent rent and no more turnover or major fees. If the tenant fails to meet the specifications of this stipulation then you immediately go to court and file for a notice of noncompliance that the defendant has failed to meet the terms of the agreement. Once this has been filed you must wait for the judgement and then obtain a writ of restitution. After this has been served and has expired then you finally file for your writ of execution and move forward with lockout. This saves time and money for all parties involved.
If you are in legal trouble and need help we suggest calling Bittner and Haus for assistance with property law. They are Sleep Sounds go to lawyers and we have had a positive experience with them.
For eviction filing services reach out to Action Services. We use them for all of our filling when we have to do it.
For help with obtaining standard notices contact the Rental Housing Alliance Oregon. I have met with many owners who have been helped by them and have had a positive experience
How can I stop this in the first place?
Proper screening is the name of the game. When it comes to avoiding non-payment make sure
- Your applicant(s) makes three times the monthly rent of the entire unit. If rent is $1000/month then the household income should be $3000/month
- Your applicant has stable employement
- If there are some negative inquiries make sure that you are charging additional security deposit and prepared for any defaults. Sleep Sound uses the following scale: (1-2= 25% extra security deposit) (3-4= 50% extra) (5= 75% extra) (6= 100% extra) and at 7 negative inquiries we will not rent to an applicant.
- Consider hiring a management company or leasing service, they can provide background information that you do not have access to. Call Sleep Sound for info on management or on using our leasing service
Use this as a starting point and you should be well on your way to a rental experience free of nonpayment evictions.