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Landlord Tips: Do Not Take Eviction into Your Own Hands

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If you invest in income properties and you have a long term investment strategy, sooner or later you will be faced the prospect of having to evict someone.  In most cases the problem will be late- or non-payers, but occasionally you might be faced with tenants who break the rules of the apartment lease (for example, sneaking a dog into the apartment), damage the premises, disturb the neighbors, or even commit crime.

Some desperate landlords might be tempted to essentially take things into their own hands with a bad tenant, but you must avoid this temptation at all costs.  Failure to follow the proper eviction protocols can lead to substantial delays in the process, additional expenses, and even a counter-suit from the tenant.

Therefore, whether you want to or not, you must always go through your county’s legal system if you want to pursue an eviction.  Never proactively try and lock the tenant out by changing the locks, or otherwise try and have them forcibly removed without a court order.  This is illegal in all states.  Also, avoid the temptation to threaten or yell at the tenant, or refuse to complete necessary repairs, because you never know how someone will react.  Always remember to maintain a business relationship; chastising the tenant could introduce emotion and ill-will into the process which in turn could motivate the tenant to retaliate against you.

If you need a primer on state landlord tenant laws, simply do a Google search for your state.  Read and understand the eviction process for your location.  In many states, you do not have to provide a notification to a non-paying tenant, but for other types of behaviors it is not uncommon to have to provide one or more written notifications.  The bottom line is that an eviction is no fun for anyone involved, including you.  But failure to follow the proper protocols makes things much more painful by increasing the time and money needed to complete the process.  It can also expose you to legal troubles.  So, fight the temptation to cut corners and make sure you do everything 100% by the book.  Good luck.

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