Written by Senior Loan Officer: Travis Sperr
The rental market is strong, rents are up and vacancies don’t exist. I have been land lording for only 5 years, but have a handful of properties. I once heard someone mention the number of tenant months as an experience indicator (number of properties x months of management). In my 426th tenant month I experienced my 1st eviction. I have had a couple tenants move because they were unable to pay, but this was the first time through the actual court process. After going through a full eviction, I encourage everyone to do it! If you have that problem tenant that is behind on rent or causing you trouble, there is no better time to part ways and put a new tenant in place.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on who you ask, I saw this eviction coming a few months in advance. The tenant was having some trouble making rent, but was getting it paid with late fees, until he wasn’t. As the pattern became a little more frequent, I started reaching out for eviction attorney recommendations. After finding one I felt would be a good fit, I retained the firm so that when the day came it would be a much smoother and faster process. In a softer rental market, I have found that when someone is behind and you post a 3 day notice, they gather most of their items and get moved. In this rental market – where are you going to go? The rent on your current property is likely lower than anything on the market today, even if the tenant has only been there since August. This guy really wanted to stay, for free I guess, hoping to “work it out”.
I posted the 3 day notice in early January. The tenant came into the office and made a decent size dent in the amount owed, with a clear plan to make up the rest the following week. As you can probably imagine, next week came but the money did not. I posted another 3 day notice and that one got us to the eviction. Luckily I already decided on the attorney I would work with, so it was just a quick email to start the eviction. Everything went as expected, I got my court date and waited for the update from the attorney following court, expecting I would have my possession date or the tenant would see that it is time to go. I was surprised when the tenant filed an answer. When being evicted, the tenant has the opportunity to explain their side; maybe the house wasn’t habitable or the landlord was wrongfully evicting. The tenant did file an answer stating that he knew he was behind but could be caught up by March, keep in mind it was the middle of January. Apparently in Denver County, admitting that rent hasn’t been paid is enough to buy another week for a trial date. My attorney attempted to get the answer dismissed and judgment for possession, but the court denied it. So now I had to attend court for a trial, the worst part about it was having to go downtown and find parking! I showed up a few minutes early, as you might expect to for a court trial at 9 am. My tenant, on the other hand, was late, just like his rent payment. My attorney offers him a few days to move out, we went back and forth on how many days and came to an agreement. The tenant and attorney see the judge in a People’s Court like scenario, the judge explains very clearly what is going on and when the tenant needs to be out.
Following the exchange, court was dismissed. There are 4 people in the whole court room – the court reporter, my attorney, the tenant and me. I connect with the tenant to get his forwarding address and reiterate the condition I expect the property to be returned in.
I visit the property the following week, after it is to be vacant and find that it is empty. Not in great shape, but good enough that I can start to get it ready for a new tenant.
My first eviction wasn’t as bad as I expected, and I am glad to have gone through the full process. Now that I have an attorney on my team, I can start an eviction from the comfort of my desk. The property needed the usual – paint, carpet, trash removed and some miscellaneous fixes. Before I could even get the property in shape, I had people lining up to rent the property at $1,595 per month – the last tenant was at $1,345 per month. One guy even offered to paint the property before moving in! I encourage all of the landlords out there to get comfortable with the process so when the day comes you know exactly what process to follow. Of course, every property owner handles situations differently, but ask yourself if you would be more firm with rent collection if you knew taking action was only an email away?