Evicting Tenants – Required Notice
When evicting tenants, notice of intent to vacate must be given within a certain period, which should be specified in the terms of most lease agreements. A letter from the manager outlining the procedures tenants should follow when terminating their tenancy can avoid many misunderstandings.
Sometimes tenants are poorly informed as to the notice required and details they must follow when vacating their space. The letter should include a checklist for the tenant, detailing the expected cleaning, post-occupancy inspections, return of security deposits.
If a good tenant decides to move, the manager should contact him or her immediately to find out whether the decision was prompted by any oversight on the part of management…
…if so, the manager should ascertain if the situation can be corrected thereby retaining a valuable tenant. Even if the tenant’s decision is irreversible, the manager should note the reasons behind it and file them for future reference.
Evicting Tenants – Exit Interview
An exit interview between manager and tenant should be made in person, if possible, and should be a routine procedure;
By analyzing the responses of all tenants who have moved recently, the manager can better understand the reasons behind the tenant turnover.
To stay on firm legal footing, the manager who does not renew a lease should have demonstrated proof of just cause for the refusal. Such termination may not be based on the tenant’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, or handicap.
Additionally, the manager is prohibited from serving notice in retaliation for the tenant’s complaints to the authorities about building health and safety issues.
Evicting Tenants – Fair Housing Compliance
The manager may refuse to renew a lease by giving the tenant appropriate notice of termination. This procedure can be used in lieu of the more expensive and time-consuming court eviction suit, provided the tenant’s conduct is not too destructive and the remaining lease term is short.
Evicting Tenants – Inspection of The Premises
Whenever either party terminates a lease, the manager should inspect the space with the tenant after the tenant has removed all personal items. Whenever possible, the manager should use the same form used for move-in…
…the one that had been signed by both the tenant and the manager, to determine if any damage has been done to the property and if the unit is being returned in reasonable condition.
Any deductions to be made from the security or cleaning deposits can be calculated at this time.
When the unit is empty, the manager will have to determine what repainting and refurbishing will be needed before the space can be rented again. To facilitate this procedure, the manager might carry a checklist to note the condition of each room or area, repairs needed, and when they can be scheduled.
Similar forms should be used for commercial space.
NOTE! [At least one state, California, requires that the residential property manager must conduct a property inspection before evicting tenants from the property, if requested by the tenant.]
Evicting Tenants – Return of the Security Deposit
Typically, state and/or local laws provide a detailed procedure for returning a security deposit. Generally, the landlord must account for how the security deposit is returned or retained within a certain period of time after the lease is terminated.
Many states require that the reasons be documented in writing. A security deposit may usually be applied towards unpaid rent and/or damages or required repairs to the property.
The landlord or manager must document in writing why any money is being retained. In some states, failure to do so will subject the landlord to legal penalties. State laws provide various ways to disburse unclaimed security deposits.
Even though the lease agreement also deals with the security deposit, it is good to have tenants sign this stand-alone form. You’ll want them to be crystal, crystal clear on this. You can attach it to the lease and deal with it at the same time.
Retention for damages. When evicting tenants, acceptable grounds for retaining part or all of the security deposit typically include damages to the premises;…
…unauthorized, non-standard, or irreversible decorating; excessive cleaning expenses; and unauthorized alterations.
Charges made against the security deposit must be documented to establish the case against the tenant, and an inspection checklist is the best means of verification.
Other documentation may include pictures of the damage or contractors’ bills to clean or repair the premises.
Last month’s rent. In the past, residential tenants sometimes used security deposits as the last month’s rent, but current legislation in some states forbids this practice. Even if it is not prohibited, leases should be written to prohibit it.
One manager made the security deposit a different amount than the monthly rent; tenants stopped thinking of it as rent.
Security deposit legislation also covers the handling of security deposits when the ownership of dwelling units changes. Under the law, the person holding a security deposit must either return the deposit to the tenant or transfer it to the new owner…
…while giving notice to the tenant. If a property manager is required by law to be licensed as a real estate broker, trust account laws and regulations governing brokers also apply to funds held by a property manager on behalf of tenants.