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Property Management Blog

Published on Saturday, September 22, 2012

How to Master the Eviction Process

Come Up to Speed
Before you say or do anything, know what your lease says about delinquencies or the tenant’s behavior first. You need to evaluate what sort of leverage you have over the tenant.

What is required of you under the lease? Do you have to send written notice or a warning? What policies have you followed with other tenants in the past? Avoid jumping the gun with a confrontation until you are certain you can deliver on the threat or you give the tenant the power.

Hit the Ground Running
When a tenant doesn’t pay rent — the most common reason for eviction, they may be testing the waters, waiting to see your reaction. If they don’t get immediate push-back, then their test was successful. This will only encourage more bad behavior — like living rent free for weeks while you mull over whether to evict them.

If the tenant is acting out, and you have the right to evict, get right to it by telling them where they stand. Everyone wants to believe that the problem will just go away, but it won’t.

Never delve into the personal reasons the tenant is defaulting. Avoid short-term fixes. Don’t issue multiple warnings. Chances are they’re just getting you off their back long enough to find a new place — and then disappear.

Box Them In
The old adage “shoot first, ask questions later” can apply to eviction cases. If you have a delinquent tenant, time is of the essence. When a tenant becomes unresponsive, and you have the legal right to evict, immediately file the proceeding and get the time lines rolling. You can always settle later — even dismiss your claim if you work it out. Think of the filing fee as your insurance policy against a prolonged vacancy.

By filing, you have provided a firm deadline that offers the tenant incentive to negotiate with you. Now, you have the power.

No Room for Errors
Eviction paperwork is notoriously problematic for the do-it-yourself landlord. Common mistakes include miscalculating the days required for the notice, not including the tenant’s full legal name, and not naming all of the occupants in the property. It is even possible to make mistakes when naming the actual owner of the property. Any incorrect or incomplete information likely will lead to a dismissal. Not only does the landlord need to re-file, they will lose their position of strength.

Presenting the eviction to the court requires calm, and a whole lot of documentation. Come prepared and organized, and you can defeat any bogus defense the tenant may raise to delay the eviction.

If you’re not clear on the rules, hire an attorney to process the eviction. Seems too expensive? In making that determination, factor in what it will cost you if you have to file multiple evictions against this same tenant, suffer a long-term vacancy if you don’t succeed in getting a problem tenant out of your property the first time around, or allow this disrespectful tenant time to damage the property.

Don’t Stop There
While getting the tenant out and the property re-rented is a top priority, don’t let the former tenant off the hook if they owe you money. There are a number of options available for collecting any unpaid rent or damages the tenant caused. You may not be certain of the tenant’s circumstances; there is always the possibility that you can collect what is owed. 

By pursuing the tenant, you can create a record on the their credit report. If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for the rest of the landlords out there who may have to deal with this same problem tenant.

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Author: Web Master

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Landlord Knowledge Base

If you’ve ever considered investing in a few rental properties in Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA now might be a good time. Prices are still low in Philadelphia, but have been on the upswing. According to the National Association of Realtors, the median price of an existing home in a US metropolitan area grew 13.7% between July 2012 and July 2013, the latest in a 17-month streak of year-over-year price increases. 

New landlords can choose from properties that are likely to appreciate and a large pool of potential renters.Licensed realtor Pat Mueller cites a few reasons for this trend: “Many families have lost their homes to foreclosure and are entering the rentals market for the first time in years. Mortgages are also harder to get now, so fewer people are qualifying for a new one.”The more skills you bring to the table to get into Houses for Rent in Philadelphia Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA and the more time you have to devote to your properties, the faster you can make a return on your investment. 

But investing in rentals can also be disastrous (or too stressful to be worthwhile) without expertise. Here are three professionals you may consult about your new rental properties, and what you can do to mitigate how much they cost you:Handyman:  You may need to hire a specialist for some work on your rental. If you need new outlets or new pipes, for example, hire an electrician, plumber or licensed contractor. Handymen usually tackle smaller, more manageable tasks, like:

  • Painting and paint removal
  • Drywall repair
  • Minor appliance repairs (fixing a leaky toilet or faucet, among others)
  • Installing tiling or flooring, moldings, windows, doors
  • Refinishing decks, cabinets and other wood items

When You Could Skip It: You could do any (or all) of these projects yourself if you have the time and interest in learning. Of course, this only works if you live relatively close to your rentals and are flexible enough to service them on short notice. And if you’re willing to respond to the occasional 5 AM basement flooding.

Average Savings: Any base rates or costs-per-hour vary from location to location in Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA , but nationally, you can expect to spend an average of $60 to $85 per hour for repair costs. It general costs less to hire an individual handyman than a handyman employed by a company. Expect an additional charge if your job requires a trip to the store for materials.

Resident Property Manager As the owner of a handful of rental properties, you may be able to manage them yourself, but if you want help, a single resident manager would probably be more cost efficient than a property management company. Resident managers may:

  • Serve as a handyman
  • Advertise vacancies in your units
  • Show apartments to prospective tenants
  • Review rental applications
  • Collect rents

When You Could Skip It: Again, the closer you live to your properties and the more spare time you have, the less likely you are to need a manager. The obligations of being a boss will also cut into the time you save on maintenance.

Average Savings: The national median wage for residential managers is just over $25 per hour. Research the wages in your community and adjust according to how much responsibility your manager will take on. 

Real Estate Agent: Once you’ve gotten your financials in order and done your own research on the neighborhood(s) you’re considering, you might contact a realtor to show you potential properties. You can also arrange for a realtor in Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA to show rentals once they’re ready to rent.

When You Could Skip It: It depends. Even if you’re a local, or have thoroughly researched the neighborhood(s) you’re considering, a realtor is a great resource for a first-time rental buyer. Realtors have access to data and statistics not necessarily available to the general public and first-time buyers may not know all the right questions to ask. Using a realtor to fill your Houses for Rent vacancies is less of a no-brainer, depending on your other time commitments or whether you plan to hire a resident manager who could do the same thing.

Average Savings: As a buyer of rental properties, as when buying your own home, sellers typically pay most, if not all, of the buyer’s realtor fees. In this case, Mueller points out there’s little reason not to work with a realtor. For help in filling your units in Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA, the services of a realtor would set you back between 10-20% of the unit’s rent per month.  Mueller recommends interviewing with several brokers before making your final decision to invest into Houses for Rent .

The Bottom Line: As a new landlord, you can’t necessarily control the flexibility of your schedule or the amount (and cost) of unexpected repairs to your properties. Rentals are a long-term investment. However, to maximize profits from your Houses for Rent, new rentals, you can buy close to home and start small. It is best to begin with just one or two properties. This will allow you to maximize the time you spend on your properties’ needs, and minimize the amount you’ll have to pay anyone else.

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