Evictions are back on track. The Gouner Law Office normally handles only a dozen or so evictions per year. In the last month, however, we have gotten calls for nearly that many and have completed quite a few.
The “Notice to Vacate” you see here is one of the “not so sensitive” versions recently used at an apartment complex in Houston. It’s not how we recommend handling an eviction.
Part of the problem is tenants have the mistaken idea that COVID somehow cancelled the eviction process. That is not the case. The CARES ACT limits actions for landlords who have federally guaranteed loans and take advantage of certain government benefits. It does not stop evictions for other reasons, such disruptive tenants.
Landlords, if you need help with an eviction, our office is available. Anyone who rents out their property has a dread of failed tenancy and the sometimes “messy” job of reclaiming it, before starting all over with a new lessor.
It does not have to be an ordeal. It just has to be done.
Making matters worse this year is the looming threat of the virus, and it certainly has worked everyone’s last nerve. Many responsible tenants have lost all means to pay, and the tragedy of that doesn’t make the job any easier.
The Gouner Law Offices has a few tips to share with landlords about evictions:
When is formal eviction needed?
In general, formal eviction is needed when the tenant has vacated without telling you, refuses to leave, or when there is any uncertainty about the end of your landlord relationship with the person. A formal “5-Day Notice to Vacate” notice must be attached to the main door of the business or residence. The form must be completely filled out, including witnesses. You must take a picture of it on the door. The photo must also show the exterior of the building, with the notice in plain sight. Every person being evicted must be listed, along with their business name.
Taking a picture of the landlord and witnesses standing next to the posted notice is a good idea, but be sure any COVID masks are temporarily pulled down for the photo. That way, if the notice is contested, you can visually prove the legitimacy of the witnesses.
The date must be correct and the notice, securely fastened. Make sure your witnesses understand there is a small possibility they may be called to court to attest they witnessed the notice being executed.
If, during an eviction, and an angry tenant utters deprecations (expressed disapprovals) in your direction, stay calm. Inform them they are being evicted according to the law, and it is now out of your hands.
There is no need to argue or explain. That time has passed.
You may find it helpful to talk with a professional about your rights as a landlord, and what you can do to keep them intact. Greg Gouner has 25 years of legal practice dealing with all types of tenant/landlord situations. The Gouner Law Office can handle the process from start to finish.
Written by Ted Baldwin