Evicting a tenant is never pleasant. But landlords do have alternatives to eviction that can actually help maintain good tenant morale and a lower vacancy rate.
First, determine the severity of the problem you are experiencing with your tenant. If they are causing extreme damage to your property, threatening you or your other tenants, or refusing to pay their rent, eviction may be your only sensible option. However, if the infractions are less severe, here are some tips on how to resolve the problem.
- Schedule a meeting with your tenant or tenants in a neutral location. Tempers can easily flare when it comes to landlord-tenant relations. The landlord may feel that their property is at risk, while the tenant may feel that the landlord is trying to take their home away. Be sensitive to your tenant’s feelings while you take the necessary steps to protect your property. Not all tenants may realize that they are breaking your lease agreement or damaging your property. By scheduling a meeting with your tenant, you can both calmly discuss these problems and come to a mutual agreement on how to handle them.
A neutral location, such as a restaurant, will prevent either side from feeling that they have the upper hand, and may provide a feeling of protection if either party is overly emotional about the problem.
- Hire a mediator. Mediation is one of the best ways to handle an argument or problem you have with your tenant. In mediation, an independent third party is brought in to mediate your current situation. Both sides are allowed to present their cases, and the mediator uses this information to make a decision.
Before going into mediation, you’ll need to provide enough documentation to prove what damage or other problem is occurring. This will help you build your case ahead of time, and make the mediator’s job easier.
Mediation is rarely binding, meaning that you will not be required in most cases to follow the solution the mediator provides. Many states provide a mediation board to handle property management concerns. If you’re unsure of how to go about setting up a mediation session, contact your state’s real estate governing body for more information.
- Move to binding arbitration. If mediation is not successful, you can then move up to the arbitration process with the tenant’s consent (or if provided for in your rental agreement). Unlike mediation, arbitration is typically binding, which means you’ll be required to implement the solution that the arbitrator provides for your problem.
- Do not offer a lease renewal. If all else fails, and your tenant’s lease is due to expire, you may be able to force the issue simply by not renewing the lease agreement with your tenant. However, this can be a complex issue, depending on your state or local laws. Review such laws before the lease is due to expire.
Chances are, if you’re unhappy with your tenant, they most likely will have a problem with you as well, and will not want to renew the lease agreement. If you can part amicably, or at least without any arguments, this may be the best road to take.