There's a reason landlords are advised to screen tenants thoroughly: Renters who don't pay or follow the rules can cause undue headaches for the people who own the homes they live in. But what if, despite your best efforts, you've wound up with a tenant who's not living up to his or her end of your rental agreement? Evicting that tenant may seem like the best -- and only -- solution. But before you go that route, consider the drawbacks of pursuing an eviction.
1. They're costly
Evicting a tenant doesn't just mean slapping a notice on someone's door and waiting for authorities to escort that person away a few weeks later. There's a legal process involved, and one that could cost hundreds of dollars (or more) in attorney and court fees alone.
2. They're time consuming
Evictions don't happen overnight. To evict a tenant, you generally need to serve that person with notice. Depending on where your rental property is located, you may need to give your tenant up to 30 days from the date of that notice to vacate the property or remedy the situation at hand. (They could, for example, come up with rent that's overdue.) Once your notice period expires, you'll then need to file your eviction in court, wait for a hearing, wait for a ruling, and then go through the process of having your tenant and his or her belongings removed from your property. All told, the eviction process could take months, during which time you're stuck in limbo with a world of stress hanging over you.
3. There's the risk of not recouping lost rent
If you're looking to evict a tenant who's not paying rent, getting a court order in your favor won't solve the issue of being out that money. You can try to file a lawsuit to recoup your missing rent, but if your tenant has no assets, you may be out of luck.
A better solution
If you have a tenant who's destructive, disturbing other tenants in your building, and downright uncooperative, then eviction may be your best course of action if that tenant won't work with you to terminate his or her lease. But if the issue at hand is money, evicting your tenant may not be the best way to go.
A better idea? Sit down with that tenant, talk through his or her financial issues, and aim to find a compromise. Maybe your tenant is temporarily out of work or has encountered an unplanned issue, like an illness, that's compromised his or her finances. In that scenario, you may be able to work out an arrangement where your tenant defers rent for a while or pays you some amount of money each month if paying the full rent is out of the question. And while that's not ideal, getting some money coming in is preferable to getting none at all.
Incidentally, the above scenario is one many landlords may be facing today. The COVID-19 crisis has driven millions of Americans into unemployment, and those who are still working may be grappling with reduced hours and less income as a result. By working to keep tenants in their homes, landlords can spare themselves -- and the people they rent to -- a world of upheaval and stress.
Of course, in some cases, evictions are indeed unavoidable. But before you rush into one, think about the drawbacks involved, and consider the different ways you may be able to resolve your situation in a manner that works out better for everyone involved.