When a landlord finally decides to evict a tenant, swift action is required. With unpaid rent a common issue, time can literally be money. The failure to follow proper eviction procedures can be costly and compound the total costs of the dispute with the tenant. Each step of an eviction procedure is equally important as the failure to comply with any single legal requirement could result in a court dismissing the action and requiring the landlord to begin legal proceedings from scratch. In order to properly prepare yourself for an eviction, avoid these three common landlord mistakes:
1. BELIEVING YOU WILL WIN JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE THE “LANDLORD”
The assumption that owning the property provides you superior rights to the rights of a tenant can be a costly misconception. A false sense of strength when heading toward or engaged in litigation with a tenant, can result in the unnecessary escalation of the dispute and incurring otherwise avoidable fees and costs. A landlord’s case is often only as good as his or her lease and violations of the lease terms such as nonpayment of rent, illegal actions, and other lease breaches must be proven to the court in order for a landlord’s unlawful detainer claim to be meritorious. Record keeping and proper maintenance of the property are also important steps in winning a legal dispute as landlords must show specific legal grounds in order to have a tenant removed.
2. RELYING ON AN UNPROFESSIONAL OR GENERIC INTERNET LEASE
Having a well written lease is the key to a successful landlord / tenant relationship. But many landlords try to cut corners with generic leases or documents found on the Internet. Many do-it-yourself and Internet leases fail their users by including unclear language or terms which are not enforceable in the jurisdiction. Landlords often do not learn of their lease’s shortcomings until eviction is necessary and many times by then it is too late. All landlords should have an experienced attorney review their lease agreements before utilizing them with tenants.
3. REFUSING TO CONSIDER CREATIVE SETTLEMENT ALTERNATIVES
Often times the threat of eviction or service of the summons and complaint are enough to make a tenant realize they have no choice but to vacate the property. Settlements can be reached with tenants at this early stage of the eviction process and save all parties involved time and money. When one considers the time frame the average eviction takes along with costs of the proceedings (considering time and money), one can understand the value of an agreed upon resolution. The bottom-line for any eviction is reclaiming possession of the unit so it can be re-let to a new paying tenant; if a compromise takes you to that finish line faster, or with less out of pocket expense, there is no reason not to consider it.
Amir H. Afsar, Esq. is an attorney and founder of Afsar Law Group, A.P.C. which represents clients in business, real estate, construction, and estate planning matters throughout the Coachella Valley including Indio, La Quinta, Bermuda Dunes, Indian Wells, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Cathedral City, Palm Springs, Banning, Joshua Tree, and other cities located within Riverside and San Bernardino County. Mr. Afsar can be reached at Afsar Law Group, A.P.C. at 760.345.3110.