Chris stroked his beard and shook his head, saying:
"It's not fun." He was talking about having to walk up
to the door of one of his rental properties recently
with an armed sheriff and serve eviction papers to one
of his tenants.
The couple had been living there about a year and
suddenly the check didn't come. He gave notice, per
the lease, and the check still didn't come. After
meeting with the husband, he was given assurances that
the back rent would be paid and that he would make
sure his payments would be on time in the future.
Another month later, Chris knew he was going to have
to evict this man, his wife and children -- not a
All Chris wanted to do was rent out good, clean,
affordable properties to good tenants, now he was
having to exercise the "heavy" part of the lease: tell
the renter they were no longer welcome to live there,
change the locks, put all the furniture outside and go
to court for money owed -- even though he knew he
would probably never see it. What followed was an
emotional explosion from the wife toward her husband
(who she thought had settled the debt).
If you ever have to face evicting a tenant, all sorts
of thoughts float through your mind. First of all, an
investor never wants to believe that the person they
were so happy to rent their dwelling to a few months
before is not someone they will be walking up to the
door with law enforcement and telling (not asking)
them to leave.
Second, since most investors have properties leveraged
with a mortgage, you start worrying that you won't be
able to make the payments on that mortgage and that
the lender will start making some threats of his own.
Third, as you enter the property you are clinging on a
thin strand of hope that maybe, just maybe, the house
doesn't need a lot of repair, causing even more
If you ever face evicting someone, the process differs
state by state, even county by county. In Chris' case,
he had to serve notice five days after the check was
late and from that point, he was going to have to wait
three weeks before the court met to hear the case (as
it does every month). In the meantime, the sheriff
calls and sets up a time to visit the tenant's house
and serve notice of the court date. As you may
calculate, by that time, your tenant may be two months
behind in rent and you're two months behind in
mortgages to your lender.
In between the filing and court date, he attempted to
work out finances with the tenants, warning them that
eviction day was coming. (He was, of course, promised
that all the household goods would be moved out by
then.) Once the court date came and the judge gave
approval for the eviction, he then joined the sheriff
and walked up to the door to change the locks and
inspect the property.
In this case, the worst happened -- all the furniture
and belongings were still in the house and the wife
never knew what was happening. Chris was the one to
break the bad news. She sat there and cried and
apologized profusely, promising to pay him back (and
payments have begun).
Nevertheless, the furniture had to be moved out and
fix up on the unit begin -- which was taking longer
and costing more than Chris had anticipated.
As you consider investing, be sure to look over the
good, the bad and the ugly of investing. Look through
your lease carefully about your rights as the landlord
and the process lined up for taking back ownership of
your property and evicting the tenants. Especially
consider the tenant-landlord laws of your
jurisdiction. While they are created to protect the
housing rights of both tenant and landlord, they can
also cost you a lot of money and you need to be sure
you're able to pay.
Mr. Carr has covered real estate since 1989. He is the
author of Real Estate Investing Made Simple. Got a
personal real estate issue? Post your questions and
comments at Anthony's blog.