Avoiding eviction mistakes is paramount for Philadelphia landlords. Evictions are complicated and if the laws and regulations aren’t followed to the tee, serious consequences can occur for landlords. Several common mistakes are easily avoidable, yet landlords and property managers continue to make them. Take a look at these ten common mistakes landlords make when evicting a tenant to avoid any problems going forward!
Top 10 Philadelphia Landlord Eviction Mistakes to Avoid
Do it Yourself Property Management
Managing your property might sound like an easy task, but without the right knowledge a landlord can quickly end up in hot water! With all of the laws surrounding property management, avoid this eviction mistake by hiring a reputable property management company like Bay Property Management Group. Having a professional on your side will ensure that you are following proper protocol and keep your property in compliance with state, local and federal eviction laws.
Lack of Lease Enforcement
The first step in any tenant/landlord relationship is having a good lease agreement. You want to make sure your lease covers everything and is well written to protect you, the landlord, and your property. Once you have a strong lease agreement in place, you need to enforce the lease. A lease is a legally binding contract and as such, the policies outlined in the contract need to be enforced. If your tenant violates any part of the lease, you need to enforce the policies in violation of timely and written documentation. Is the rent late? Be sure to stick with your policy covering late fees and court filings.
In addition to a solid lease agreement, make sure you include all of the necessary addenda and attachments required by local, state and federal ordinances. In Philadelphia, you are required to provide all tenants with the Certification of Rental Stability and the Philadelphia Good Housing Document. Failure to provide these documents to your tenants could result in an eviction case being tossed out of court! Just another reason to hire a good third-party property management company that understands the laws for your area.
Poor Property Maintenance
Property maintenance is essential and failure to do so violates your obligations under your lease agreement. Whether you choose to perform maintenance yourself or decide to hire a 3rd party contractor, you want to make sure you are responding to maintenance requests promptly and efficiently. A landlord’s failure to properly maintain the property could result in an eviction hearing being thrown out in court.
You should also avoid having tenants fix things themselves in exchange for a reduction in rent. You can’t be sure the tenants are fixing things properly and could incur further issues down the road.
Failure to Provide Proper Eviction Notice
Another common landlord eviction mistake is a failure to provide proper notice. Any lease less than a year requires the landlord to send a written 30-day eviction notice. These individuals have the right to 30 days notice and evicting them without that is against the law.
Lack of Proper Documentation
Records! Records! Records! Always keep written documentation of all lease violations. Whenever possible, have witness statements as well. A lack of proper documentation is a grave eviction mistake when it comes to evictions. Lease violations could be grounds for eviction, however, without proof, the eviction isn’t valid.
Common lease violations to document include missed and late payments, damage to the property and smoking in a non-smoking property. It is also helpful to make sure your lease agreement includes the language of which violations are grounds for evictions.
This is perhaps the biggest eviction mistake a landlord can make in the eviction process. Self-help eviction is both illegal (in most cases) and immoral. Self-help eviction is when a landlord takes it upon themselves to kick the tenant out without following proper eviction procedures and laws. Some examples include; removing the tenants’ items from the property and placing them outside, changing the locks without notice, turning off utilities or any type of harassment and/or verbal or physical threats. Always be smart and follow the law for evictions. When a court approves the eviction, follow through the proper way than to by using a sheriff to remove items and/or the tenant from the premises.
It is easy to get emotional during the eviction process (or in general with a tenant) is a problem! Of course, it is easy to get emotional as one may become close to a tenant. On the other side of the spectrum, even if you aren’t close to your tenant, you feel a strong need to protect your property. That is great, but do so in a professional manner! The tenant can say anything they want (to some extent) without consequence, the second a landlord using inappropriate language, threats, etc. with the tenant, things can get complicated. A landlord or property manager can be taken to court for offensive behavior violating both state and federal law. Just don’t!
Skipping an Attorney
Never self-represent when heading to court with a tenant. Even the most experienced landlords and property managers should have an eviction attorney. Do your research and have a reputable and experienced attorney who understands tenant/landlord laws in your state.
Withholding Security Deposit
Eviction or not, with-holding a security deposit is only legal under certain circumstances. Do not attempt to withhold the deposit to try and get a tenant to leave and/or pay an unpaid balance. Security deposits are to cover damages and a landlord is required to provide proof of said damages including receipts and a security deposit disposition.
Little Knowledge of Philadelphia Eviction Laws
Know the laws! They can be complicated and have caveats. Eviction isn’t always black and white, plus laws vary from state to state. Learn more about the Pennsylvania eviction laws.
At the end of the day, many mistakes can be made. We outlined some of the most common landlord eviction mistakes to avoid, however, it is very important to always hire a good attorney and know the laws. Never use emotion or threats to evict and always follow guidelines (no self-help evictions!).
Still, looking for more information? Learn more about the eviction process in Philadelphia or contact a Philadelphia property management company today.