EVICTION AVOIDANCE TECHNIQUES
For over 20 years now, we have been able to observe the habits and traits of property managers. Some of these habits and traits are good, and some are just plain bad. One interesting aspect has stood out above the rest and is readily apparent in our firm, since we file so many evictions for so many property managers. Some property managers seem to be able to decrease the number of evictions they have when they begin managing a particular property or portfolio of properties. How do they do it? This article will examine some of the habits or procedures of property managers who seem to have found the trick to reducing evictions. Reducing evictions is crucial to the bottom line. Not only are you avoiding the costs of an eviction, the headaches, the uncertainty and all that goes with evicting, you are also minimizing damage to the property. Residents who are evicted generally do not clean the unit upon move out, and worse yet, many maliciously damage or destroy the premises and take off with the appliances, resulting in thousands of dollars in expenses.
Communication is the Key
Many residents are already preparing to move from the premises, so when you file the eviction, it is actually a waste of money. Often the resident vacates immediately upon getting served with eviction papers. Is this because they got the papers? Often the answer is no; they were planning on moving anyway, but you did not know it. The result is that you wasted the money. Some residents need to be reminded to pay the rent. Funny how the resident all of a sudden pays right after you spoke with them. Some residents are simply late payers and pay on their own schedule. You file an eviction, and they come running into your office, but are now unable to get caught up because of the attorney’s fees and costs you incurred
- Notice serving: A Three Day Notice or any other notice for that matter, unless the statute or your lease requires otherwise, should never be served by posting (taping) on the door unless the resident is not home. You are allowed by law to post a Three Day Notice “in the absence of the resident”. Common practice by many property managers is to “tiptoe, tape and take off”. The manager puts the tape on the notice ahead of time, creeps up to the door and lightly places the notice on the door, and then gets out of there before the residents’ unauthorized dog begins to bark. Why? Because the property manager does not want to confront the resident. The result is that the resident will look at the notice, throw it in the trash and maybe pay the rent or not. No communication has occurred, except for the property manager serving the notice, and even that service was legally improper because the manager failed to knock on the door. Knock on that door! If you feel uncomfortable doing it, have someone come with you, or delegate it to someone else.
- Face to face communication: Speaking with the resident face to face is the best way to communicate and see what the resident’s intentions are. When serving the Three Day Notice or at any time thereafter, the manager should knock and try to engage the resident in conversation. The manager may find out information from the resident at that time which could avoid an eviction:
a. The resident may pay the rent. This is the best and desired result.
b. The resident may tell you they are going to pay tomorrow or give you a fixed date which may be soon after the expiration of the Three Day Notice. This will then affect your decision whether to hold off a couple days or go straight to eviction after the expiration of the Three Day Notice.
c. The resident may indicate he is moving. You look in; see a bunch of boxes and over the weekend the resident moves out. By making the decision to hold off, you have averted an eviction and saved some time and money.
- Past Due Amount Workout Agreement: Upon being able to make the face to face communication happen, the resident may indicate that they do not have all the rent due but can pay you at a future date. Not wanting to lose the resident, you may decide to agree to the payment on a fixed date or date and in a particular fashion. It is a payment plan. By using the Past Due Amount Workout Agreement, this memorializes the agreement and prevents a situation in which the resident claims you gave a verbal extension.
- The Agreement to Vacate: The resident may ask for a few more days and the property manager, hoping the resident will live by his word agrees. If the property manager agrees, the resident can sign an Agreement to Vacate giving a fixed vacating date. We have found that most residents who sign an Agreement to Vacate will indeed do as they say. Another eviction not filed!
- Phone or email communications: The next best thing to face to face communication is to speak to the resident on the phone or email them. Generally regular mail is not the preferred method, as mail can take up to 5 days, and each day without rent is lost money. The problem is that many managers fail to have the up to date information necessary to contact the resident and find out his or her intentions. We highly recommend you read this article as soon as possible Importance of Updated Contact Information
- The 24 Hour Notice: Many property managers give a final “24 hour Notice” to the resident after the Three day Notice has expired. This notice tells that that they have one last chance to pay the rent before their file is sent to the attorney for eviction. Payment demand notices that are given to the resident after the Three Day Notice can compromise the eviction, but that said, use your own judgment as to whether or not you are going to do this. While some judges have ruled that such a notice invalidates the prior Three Day Notice, it can be very effective! We cannot tell you to do this, but we know it is done all the time. If you do decide to send a final notice or 24 hour notice, if a dollar amount is referenced on the reminder notice, it should not conflict with the amount cited on the prior Three Day Notice.
- The Curable Noncompliance Examined PART 1
- THE CURABLE NONCOMPLIANCE EXAMINED PART 2
- THE WRIT OF POSSESSION – WHAT IT IS
- THE WRIT OF POSSESSION AND THE FULL UNIT
- WORK ORDER COMPANY POLICY AND THE LAW