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3 Surefire Ways to Lose Your Eviction Case

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As you probably already know, the main downside of rental property investing is dealing with tenants, and this includes recruiting new tenants as well as managing existing ones. And in terms of dealing with existing tenants, the most aggravating scenario of all is when you are forced to file for eviction.

Unfortunately, many landlords cut off their nose despite their face when it comes to the proper way to evict a problem tenant. You must be extremely careful in your actions, and always play by the book; otherwise you could hinder your ability to bring your eviction case to a successful conclusion. What follows are a few surefire ways to put your eviction case in jeopardy.

Obviously the most critical error you could make is failing to abide by your state’s landlord laws and protocols around evictions. For example, in many states the landlord is required to give a written notice or warning to disobedient tenants prior to filing for their eviction. If this is a requirement and you fail to comply, your case will get dismissed. So make sure you research your state’s laws and requirements so you do not inadvertently break the rules.

Another critical error is trying to take matters into your own hands. This includes trying to conduct a “self-service” eviction without involving the courts. This is not allowed in any state…you MUST go through the legal system to legitimately evict someone. This also includes more subtle actions, like harassing the tenant or shutting the electricity off. Although it may seem tempting, avoid doing things like this at all costs, because it can provide a defense for the tenant and therefore could put your case at risk.

Finally, failing to document the specifics of the tenancy & the tenant’s actions could put a real damper on your case. For example, by documenting the condition of the property upon move-in (with either an inspection checklist or taking actual pictures), you can eliminate the possibility of the tenant claiming that the property is unlivable as part of his or her defense, for example. Also, in the case of missed rental payments, always document what you received and when, and back it up with documented proof (such as deposit slips or bank statements). Also, it’s usually a good idea to document any and all communications you’ve had with the problem tenant.

The bottom line is that evicting a tenant is never fun, but it can be even worse if you make tactical errors that delay your ability to get rid of the problem. So, follow the advice in this post and you’ll be just fine.

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