Evicting your tenants is usually a last resort – it’s the last stop on the train, because it’s difficult, time-consuming and more than a little unpleasant.
In a nutshell, it comes with legal and financial stresses that most landlords would rather do without – however, sometimes it’s a necessity.
Of course you’ll take advice from your property manager, but how do know whether the issues you’re having with your tenants are run of the mill rental squabbles – or whether it’s time to evict them?
Consider evicting your tenants if…
1. They’re consistently late with the rent – or worse, they don’t paid at all
The legislation varies from state to state in terms of how long you need to wait, or how many chances you must give the tenant to get back in the black, but ultimately a tenant who doesn’t pay has to go.
There may be exceptional circumstances where you’d consider working with tenants to catch up their arrears on a payment plan, perhaps in cases of personal issues or serious illness, but you would need to have this agreement in writing so it’s enforceable if they default again.
Consult with your property manager to work out a plan with your tenant to get back on top of their rental payments.
But if they fail to catch up, remember: there are plenty of tenants out there who will pay on time, every time.
So do your stress levels and your cash flow a favour and send them on their way.
2. They’ve been using your property for something illegal
This one is a deal-breaker.
The statistics on rental properties being used as marijuana crop houses or methylamphetamine labs are terrifying, and so is the damage these illegal activities can cause to your property.
Residue from the manufacture or use of drugs such as “ice” can be absorbed into the furnishings and the building itself, making the property inhabitable, while hydroponic set-ups used to grow marijuana can lead to structural damage and mould infestations.
Regular, thorough inspections carried out by an experienced property manager are your best defence here, and you can even have the property tested for drug residue if there’s reason to be suspicious.
If you find out your tenant is manufacturing or using drugs, it’s imperative you evict them as soon as possible to limit the damage.
Otherwise, you could find yourself forking out tens of thousands of dollars for a HAZMAT-style professional clean, or left with a vacant property you can neither sell nor rent out, because it’s too dangerous for anyone to live there.
Other dodgy goings-on that might prompt eviction including using the property to store stolen goods or as an illegal brothel, although these offences are somewhat harder to spot than an elaborate clandestine meth lab, even for a great property manager.
3. They’re a nuisance
If you’re fielding constant complaints from fed-up neighbours about noisy parties or a litter of dogs that never stop barking, it could be time to move your tenants on.
The lease the tenant signed would have included terms prohibiting them from causing a nuisance or interfering with the privacy, comfort or peace and quiet of their neighbours, and these conditions apply to their guests, too.
You’ll usually need to give a warning first, depending on the laws and regulations in your state or territory, but if the disturbance continues you should consider evicting the tenant.
Other examples of nuisance behaviour include the improper dumping of rubbish, using paints or chemicals that omit a strong odour, harassing the neighbours or engaging in offensive behaviour, such as vulgar language.
4. They’ve caused damage to your property
Day-to-day wear and tear is one thing, and you may be able to forgive accidental damage caused by kids or pets.
But wilful damage is a whole other story.
Again, your property manager is your best friend here.
They should be photographing and documenting any damage they encounter during their inspections, and reporting back to you as soon as possible so that you can make a decision regarding eviction.
The tenant is usually required to notify you of any damage at their earliest convenience, so if they’ve failed to do this, that’s another black mark against their name.
5. They’re allergic to cleaning
Cleanliness is a bit more of a grey area than causing property damage or growing marijuana, but it’s still a very valid reason to evict your tenants.
In general, tenants should aim to keep the property as clean and tidy as it was when they moved in, and during routine inspections your property manager should check that cleaning jobs such as the oven, extractor fans, bathroom surfaces and floors have all been completed to an acceptable standard.
Clean and tidy tenants help extend the life of your carpets, appliances and paint jobs, saving you money, stress and time.
Plus, an aversion to cleaning in areas such as the bathroom and kitchen can lead to water damage, rot, mould and greasy build-up that’s expensive to remedy.
You don’t need tenants who treat your property like a pig pen. Next!
6. They’ve breached their lease agreement, or the strata rules
When your tenants signed their lease, they would have been asked tor read and initial every single clause on the document, along with any relevant strata or body corporate rules they’re obliged to obey – so they can’t argue that they “didn’t know” the expectations.
For some infringements, such as parking in prohibited spots, you can have the property manager issue a warning notice to the tenants.
But for more serious breaches or repeat offences, it may be worth looking at evicting your tenants and finding new ones who are sticklers for obeying the rules.
Similarly, if they’ve brazenly disregarded the conditions on their lease and bought a dog, chopped down a tree or started smoking inside, it’s time to say goodbye.
Saying goodbye to your tenants
Going down the legal path of eviction can be a big decision to make.
There are a number of reasons you might want to give your tenants the boot, including those listed throughout this article.
Most importantly, remember to triple-check the legislation in your state, get advice from your property manager, and keep a record of any communications, quotes, receipts or relevant photographs, just in case you end up resolving the matter at court or a tribunal.
And in the future, consider tightening your vetting process for new tenants and reviewing your landlord’s insurance, so you’re covered if another nightmare tenant strikes.