Eviction is one of the most unpleasant parts of being property manager. It’s a terrible situation for both you and the tenant, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.
Before evicting someone, ask yourself a few questions:
- Have I exhausted all my other options?
- Is eviction worth it, even if I lose money?
- Is the problem worth taking to court?
If the answer to all those questions is yes, so be it. But if the answer is no or you’re not sure, keep reading. (Keep reading anyway, just in case we change your mind.)
Here are six ways to settle tenant issues without eviction.
1. Give the tenant more time to pay
A late payer could be going through a temporary rough patch. If you’re able to give them a little more time to pay, with or without late fees, you just might avoid eviction.
If you feel like the tenant may be taking advantage of your kindness, and late fees aren’t correcting the problem, it might be time to have a more direct conversation.
2. Set up a meeting
If it looks like you may need to move to eviction, the easiest solution may simply be to meet with your tenants. There are a few things to keep in mind before, during and after this meeting.
- This isn’t a “breakup,” so stay open to new ideas and solutions
- The meeting should be held in a neutral location, such as a coffee shop or restaurant
- Always remain calm , even if they get heated
- Use the activity feed in Yardi Breeze to track your notes from the meeting
You don’t necessarily have to reach a decision at the meeting, so follow up with them as soon as possible. Consult a lawyer if you’re unsure about how to take next steps, especially if you’re considering eviction.
3. Hire a mediator
Some states and counties offer rental housing mediation boards. These services are non-binding, which means neither party is required to follow their decision. Still, if you and your tenants approach these meetings in good faith, you may be able to find a solution that doesn’t result in eviction.
Mediation is preferable to court for many reasons:
- Mediation is time-efficient
- Some boards have a dozen or more experienced members to offer their opinions
- If you eventually have to proceed with eviction after mediation, your case will be stronger because you took steps to accommodate the tenant(s)
- It reduces the number of civil cases that need to be processed by the court system
Here’s an example of a government rental housing mediation program.
4. Move to binding arbitration
If possible, choose mediation before moving to binding arbitration. In this process, the landlord and tenant agree to let a third-party board or panel weigh in on a dispute. Whatever the arbitrator decides, goes. There’s no “out” for either party.
This process is faster and less expensive than going to court but cannot take place unless tenants first consent to it. An arbitration clause can also be written into the lease.
5. Don’t renew the lease
If you can stand to wait out the problem, you’ll avoid the ugliness of eviction. After all, it’s your right not to renew a lease.
As an alternative solution, you could choose to let the tenant out of their lease early. That might not be a great precedent to set for other tenants who want out of their leases, so you’ll have to decide how often you’re willing to do it.
6. Cover the tenant’s moving expenses
If eviction is too difficult or time-consuming (or circumstances make it impossible), there’s a more costly option that might work. You could offer to sponsor the tenant’s move-out/move-in. This might involve any of the following steps:
- Releasing the tenant from the lease, penalty-free
- Paying the tenant’s moving expenses
- Helping to pay for their security deposit and/or first month’s rent
- Arranging a moving truck
- Packing and unpacking their belongings
This is not a common option. However, if you feel it’s in your best interest, it might be worth a shot.
Tenant eviction disclaimer
Please note that the advice in this post does not constitute or replace professional legal advice. We hope this information is helpful as a starting point, and we encourage you to do more research.