How to Handle an Eviction

How to Handle an Eviction

How to Handle an Eviction

According to Landlordology, “Being a great landlord doesn’t mean that you’re immune from having bad tenants. Yes, tenant screening is important, but even under the best of circumstances, it’s not unusual for a well-intentioned tenant to struggle to pay rent from time to time.” That is why you need to know how to handle an eviction’

Eviction seems harsh, but it’s the business of rental properties. If a tenant can’t pay, you have to remove them from your property.  Sometimes, it’s as simple as asking them to leave.  Other times, you will have to go through the formal eviction process.

How to Handle an Eviction

Regardless of the situation, before starting the eviction process, you need to know the proper rules and procedures.  This process can be summarized in 7 steps.

  1. Understand the Eviction Laws. It all starts with a good lease, one that is in agreement with the Nebraska Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA). Under the law, you CANNOT do any of the following actions without a court order:
    • Remove the tenant’s stuff from the property.
    • Remove the tenant (i.e. hire Hulk Hogan to physically carry the tenant out)
    • Change the locks or lock-out the tenant.
    • Shut off essential utilities (electric, gas, water, etc)
    • Unleash a family of skunks in the tenant’s basement (aka, harassment)

In order for the courts to be on your side, you’ll need to follow these rules closely, and make sure that you do not give a judge any reason to doubt that you are an outstanding law-abiding citizen.

  1. Have a Valid Reason for Eviction. You don’t want to start the process if you don’t have a good and lawful reason to. Typically, the following reasons (given fair notice to the tenant) will be sufficient for an eviction:
    • Failing to pay rent
    • Violating the lease/agreement (pets, subletting, illegal use, etc)
    • Causing significant damage to property
    • Breaking noise, occupancy, or health ordinances
    • Health or safety hazards caused by the tenant

Remember, you’ll need documented proof of any claim against your tenant.  “Innocent until proven guilty” is still overarching rule in the U.S. court system.

  1. Try to Reason with Your Tenants. “If it doesn’t look like the law is entirely on your side, or if you just don’t want to spend the time and energy on an eviction case, try reasoning with them.” Landlordology has a very nice script to guide you through this process.
  2. Give a Formal Notice of Eviction. If your tenant has chosen to be uncooperative, and you’ve established that you have the right to evict your tenant, you will need to make sure you follow the set legal procedures exactly.

Be sure the tenant is aware eviction will ruin their credit score, and they won’t be able to get a mortgage, car loan, or any loan for a very long time. Also, When I win the case, I will also need to sue them for any back-due rent, in which I will eventually be able to use that judgment to garnish their wages. 

  1. File Your Eviction with the Courts. Visit your local courthouse to file your eviction and pay a fee (try not to think about all the money, time, and energy that your tenant is costing you), at which point the clerk will schedule your hearing and will eventually notify the tenant on your behalf – via a summons.
  2. Prepare for and Attend the Court Hearing. Gather all related documentation and proof of your claim. You’ll want to have the following items at a minimum:
  • lease agreements
  • bounced checks
  • records of payment of any kind
  • records of the communication between you and your tenant (phone and email records).
  • a copy of the written notice that you provided your tenant
  • dated proof that the tenant received the notice (a signature from the tenant, or receipt from the Post Office).

  1. Evicting the Tenant. If all goes well in court (and it probably will), then your tenant will have a set amount of time to leave, which is anywhere from 48 hours to a week, depending on where you live.

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PHOTO: The Law Office of Carole M Pope APC

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