Eviction: The nightmare of every investment property owner—and for good reason.
- No one wants to be the 'bad guy' and put someone out of a home.
- No investor wants to be without the income they worked hard to make happen, either.
Renters who don't want to pay their rent are few and far between: most renters want to pay their bills; they just fall on hard times. Sometimes evictions are necessary, though—so understanding the process before you ever get to that point is smart to ensure that you will be prepared if you ever find yourself needing to evict.
Fancy legal note: Of course, this article is not an attorney—so while we're sharing some generally good information, laws are constantly changing, and every situation is unique. We always recommend working with your attorney or an experienced Baltimore property management company like Rentwell to ensure you stay on the right side of the law. Being on the wrong side can be worse than a non-paying renter!
A Word of Caution
As tempting as it might be to go change the locks and throw everything on the curb, never ever do this. An eviction is a legal process: if you don't follow the proper steps, you will only end up with a bigger—and more expensive—problem.
Prepare for the Worst, Hope for the Best
While generally good life advice, prepare for the worst and hope for the best is also great investor advice. How do you ensure you're ready if you ever have to evict?
Keep Meticulous Records
Like most things in the legal world, you need to have everything in writing. If you're managing your own investments in Baltimore, be sure to keep copies of all notices, correspondence, and anything else that shows that you have upheld your end of the lease and have made every reasonable effort to remedy the situation.
There are certain notices that you need to send as part of the eviction process. You'll want to be sure you send these via certified mail.
Hire a Lawyer or Property Manager
You'll need to work with the Maryland courts to evict in Baltimore. Here is a video library from the Maryland courts that all investment property owners should watch to ensure they are properly informed about the process before moving forward.
As you can understand, trying to manage this process from videos alone is stressful: working with an expert in the field can ensure you protect your assets!
Examine Alternative Options
Sometimes there are things you can do as an investment owner to avoid eviction in the first place. If your renter has fallen on hard times and is facing eviction, you might want to consider other ways to get them to leave your property. The following are suggestions we've seen to be very effective in our role as Baltimore property management pros:
- Lease termination: If a renter can't make the rent, many people would be happy to leave and avoid having an eviction on their record. Be sure to stipulate that they leave the property in excellent condition.
- Cash for keys: Sometimes, it isn't so easy to get someone to leave. They may have nowhere to go or other circumstances. Offering a cash payment to renters that leave without eviction, provided they leave the property in great condition, can be a great way to motivate a move without drama. However, you should always get this kind of thing in writing to cover your assets.
- Payment plans: Sometimes, a renter just needs some additional time to get on their feet! Lease addendums offering payment programs can help those renters catch up over time and avoid eviction.
The Best Defense Is a Good Offense
Ideally, you'll never have to evict a renter from one of your properties. The best defense is a good offense most of the time: properly screening new renters will help you work to prevent evictions before they can start. A good renter screening program will help you weed out 'bad actors' so you can rest assured that you're taking every precaution, and only renting to responsible and reliable people.
Call in the Experts
Whether you own a single Baltimore investment property or a portfolio, there are some key allies that can help you through the tough parts of being a real estate investor.
- Find an attorney you can count on, and work with a reputable property management company.
- A good property management company can help coordinate evictions for you.
A Baltimore property management expert (like Rentwell, to toot our own horn) will know the evictions process well because of the number of investments they manage.
It is the job of whichever property management company you choose to be the asset manager, and that especially includes the not-so-great parts of managing a property. After all: it's why you pay them!
All of the above is a lot to remember when you're an investor who is working alone to manage a portfolio. We're here to help! You can make the going a little easier by downloading our free Tenant Eviction Checklist. This document will give you an overview of things you need to prepare and use during the process.
Ultimately, just remember that the best resource for you if you ever face needing to evict is an attorney or seasoned property manager. If you need that kind of direct assistance now, get in touch! We'll help you manage your portfolio, so you don't have to!