How Do I Evict My Troublesome Tenant!?
Ah, the dreaded Eviction. This is where all the landlord horror stories come from. You’ve be collecting a solid monthly cash flow every month on the 1st. Then, out of nowhere, they just stop paying. You’re fed sob story after sob story about how they got a flat tire in the middle of the week and now they don’t have enough for rent. Or that “something” came up and now they can’t pay you until next their paycheck. Being the nice person you are, you give them the benefit of the doubt and let it slide. A couple weeks turns to a month, then a month turns into a couple months, and before you know it, you’re stuck paying your mortgage, insurance, taxes and other expenses out of your own pocket, while your tenant is living in YOUR house for free. You eventually decide enough is enough, so you contact a lawyer who informs you that it’s going to cost $1000 and can take anywhere from 30-90 days to get them out of your house. Then, you have to get inside the unit and do any repairs & cleanup so that you can get it back on the market and rent it again. Hopefully you’ll get a better tenant next time. How do I Evict My Troublesome Tenant?
Does this sound familiar? Unfortunately every landlord has gone through a situation like this. We feel bad for our tenants and try to help them out, only to get taken advantage of. In this article, we will explain the process of eviction so that you’ll be better equipped to handle it yourself, or at least act faster if you see the signs that your tenant will need to be evicted.
On what grounds can I evict my troublesome tenant?
When you agree to allow a tenant to live within your precious investment property, you should be making them sign a legal, binding contact called a “lease”. In the lease should be all of the rules that a tenant must follow in order to continue living there.
Some of these rules range from
- Paying Rent in full and on time
- Keeping the house/apartment clean and free of clutter
- Following all local laws and noise ordinances
- Not smoking (if that’s in your lease)
If any of these rules are broken, then they are in violation of their lease. Being in violation isn’t grounds for eviction alone however. A landlord must give their tenant written notice that they’re in violation of the lease, and must be given an opportunity to fix the issue within a set number of days. If they fix the violation, then no harm no foul. If they continue to violate the lease, then you now have grounds to file for eviction.
Two different types of eviction
There are two different types of eviction and the way you handle each is different based on your state/municipality. In Watertown NY and Jefferson County, we are allowed to issue two different notices to our tenants.
- 3 day Demand For Rent – This notice is strictly for Non-payment of rent. As soon as your tenant is late for rent, we always recommend serving them with this document. The 3 day Demand for Rent document explains how much they owe, for which months and that you’ll be taking them to court if they do not pay.
- 30 Day Notice of Termination – This notice is issued for lease violations. This notice can only be filed 10 days after you’ve given them written notice that they need to cure their lease violations. If they do not cure their lease violations, then you issue them the Notice of Termination. In this notice you tell them exactly what lease provisions they’ve violated and that they must be out by the last day of their rental period.
How do I serve the notices?
Either notice must be served to the tenant or someone 18+ years or older by anyone OTHER than the landlord. All written notices must be served in ONE of the following three ways
- Personal direct service – This is where your servicer hands the documents directly to your tenant.
- Substituted service – This is where your servicer hands the documents to a “responsible” occupant of the house or apartment.
- Conspicuous service – This is the last ditch effort to serve the tenant. This is where you tape the notice to their door. You must also mail a copy certified mail to their address within ONE business day of the notice being hung on their door. You’re only able to use this method if you’ve made 2x attempts to serve the tenant within the hours of 6 a.m – 10 p.m Monday-Saturday.
Filing the complaint in Court
Once time frame has elapsed you can go to your district, city, town or village court and file the papers to begin the eviction case. You’ll need 3 different forms to begin your case. The forms are slightly different depending on which type of eviction you’re filing.
- Notice of Petition – This notice gives your tenant basic information, such as what you’re asking for, court location, court date and that they’re being evicted.
- Petition to Recover Possession of Real Property – This notice explains why you’re evicting the tenant and what you’re requesting, such as rent recovery, damages recovery and when they need to leave. All occupants 18+ must be listed in this document. This form MUST be notarized.
- Affidavit of Service – This notice explains how the notice was served. This form MUST be notarized. Attach copies of the notices you served your tenant.
Once you have all of these forms completely filled out, get several copies of them. Take the originals to the court, pay the filing fee and hand them in. You’ll get an index number that identifies your court case and a court date. You must next have someone other than you serve your tenant with the package (the same way you serviced the original notice). Once it’s served, go back to the court clerk within 3 days of serving the tenant. The clerk will then verify it’s been served.
How to handle the court case
The best scenario for a landlord is that the tenant doesn’t show up. If they don’t show up then it’s an automatic win for the landlord and we can progress to the sheriffs warrant. If they do show up, then we must go through the process. All tenant landlord conflicts consist of two separate hearings.
- Resolution – This is the 1st court hearing, where you and your tenant sit with a judge or attorney and attempt to settle the case.
- Trial – This is the 2nd court hearing, and only happens if you and your tenant can not come to a resolution on your own. This hearing can happen the same day as your first, or on a separate date down the road.
If you and your tenant come to an agreeable resolution, then you will sign a Stipulation of Settlement which outlines your agreement, and is signed off on by the judge. If you don’t come to a resolution then you must provide the judge with witnesses and evidence as to why you’re tenant is being evicted. Proof can in the form of
- Proof that rent hasn’t been paid
- Police report of noise disturbances
- Pictures of trashed living space
- A copy of the signed lease outlining which provisions were violated
Congratulations! You won!
At this point you’re able to request a Warrant of Eviction from the judge. This is a document that allows constable, sheriff or marshal to remove the tenant from your property. Speak with your court clerk and ask for the contact information to the person who can help you.
Once you’ve handed the officer the Notice of Eviction, they will then serve the notice to the tenant. If the officer is able to personally deliver the notice, then they can remove the tenant on the 4th day after the notice is served. If they have to mail it, then they must wait until the 6th day to remove the tenant.
Once the officer removes the tenant, you will be responsible for storing their belongings for 30 days. Common practice is to rent a storage locker, put the tenants belongings inside and then give them the key to the locker and walk away. Make sure the tenant knows exactly where their belongings are being stored, and for how long. Document everything! At this point you officially have your unit or house back. Congratulations!
Having to evict a tenant is an unfortunate part of the job. Our company Genuine Homes manages our own properties, so we’ve done our fair share. Fortunately we have good members on our team who understand the process and don’t let a day slip by. Just remember, every state/municipality has their own rules. What works for Watertown NY, may not be exactly the same in Carthage NY, or Oswego NY. Always check with your areas local court or an attorney to get the fine tuned details worked out. Last but not least, feel free to reach out to use at www.nnyhomebuyer.com anytime. We have purchased many homes with bad tenants from tired landlords. Maybe we can help you too!