Tenant Eviction: What Seattle Landlords Need to Know
As a landlord, one of the most difficult things you may have to do is evict your tenant. Whether they don't pay the rent or violate their lease agreement, eviction is unavoidable in some cases. It's important that you know what steps to take—and follow current laws--so that you can avoid legal trouble and remove them from the property with as little headache as possible!
Use these Seattle property management insights for success if you're dealing with an eviction situation now (or in the future).
Use an Eviction Attorney
As a property management company, we don't offer legal advice to landlords dealing with eviction. We always recommend using an eviction attorney to navigate the process, deliver proper notices, and protect your investments. The right lawyer can also help you work through an eviction moratorium or local eviction ban if these are in place.
While the right property manager can help you enforce the lease, notify renters, and assist throughout the process, a lawyer is the best resource for property owners when an eviction is the only resource left to resolve a tenant dispute. An attorney works directly with the courts and local law enforcement throughout the process.
If you're not sure where to find a good attorney, your property manager can also connect you with legal resources to handle court filings and appearances and work through removing a tenant.
Put Everything In Writing
While you might speak to your tenant about starting eviction proceedings, it's also critical to put everything in writing--including the amount of unpaid rent. From the 30-day eviction notice to all correspondence about rule violations or past-due rent, keep a digital or paper trail of everything throughout the process.
Your lawyer will need documentation of your efforts to follow and enforce the lease when presenting the case for eviction to the court. In many instances, legal notices must be delivered in writing to comply with the lease and landlord and tenant laws.
With written documentation, you have valid proof that you followed the rules and proper process to work with your tenant--especially if your renter says otherwise.
Stay Calm When Tenants Don't Pay Rent
One of the worst things that can happen when dealing with difficult tenants and eviction is to get upset, angry, or emotional with your resident. One bad decision out of anger at an unruly tenant can leave the court with no option but to allow the renter to stay in your property to finish the lease term.
Staying calm can help you avoid doing something like changing the locks on the rental without notice or removing a tenant's belongings without legal permission to do so. If a renter makes it challenging to keep things professional, a property management company can help! With a property manager, you have a buffer when tenants behave badly or refuse to pay the rent.
Can Landlords Prevent Evictions?
If you've gone through an eviction with a tenant, you never want to do it again. Even if you've never had to remove a renter, avoiding these situations is the best way to manage rentals and maximize returns.
Property owners can prevent most evictions with a few renter management strategies, including:
- Thorough tenant screening. Learn more about a potential renter's credit history, employment and income, rental history, and criminal background before allowing them into your property.
- A custom lease agreement. Relying on a free lease template can leave you without a document that you can enforce. Work with a Seattle property manager to create custom, airtight leases.
- Consistent rule enforcement. Letting residents get away with minor lease violations can lead to more significant violations later. Be consistent when enforcing rules outlined in the rental agreement.
- Be a good landlord. A good tenant relationship can go sour when rental owners don't fulfill their responsibilities to the property and resident. Apply excellent property management strategies to manage rentals and renters to prevent retaliatory actions from residents.
- Hire a property management company. Sometimes dealing with tenants and nonpayment of rent ruins the experience you want to have as a real estate investor. Property owners can enjoy real estate investment income while turning over the management of properties and tenants to experienced property managers.
Prioritizing efforts to find good tenants and manage them well helps with eviction prevention! If you could use some help in this area, the right Seattle property management company offers services that meet this specific need (without requiring a full-service property management contract).
A Seattle Property Management Company Handles (and Reduces) Evictions
Eviction is never the preferred outcome for landlords and tenants. However, if it becomes necessary, owners should apply these insights and follow the law to remove a tenant (and avoid a lawsuit).
With RentWatch on your side, our team will help manage every step in the eviction process from start to finish with the courts—saving you time and money while helping ensure that tenants are removed as quickly as possible. Plus, if that's the only service you need, we won't require a full-service property management contract or pricing! Reach out to learn more about how we can help.
Get more tips to manage your rentals like a pro! Download the free "DIY Landlord Handbook."