Eviction is a messy process. It’s stressful, time consuming, and often financially costly. Most landlords are lucky enough to avoid having to go through evicting a tenant, but others aren’t so fortunate. When these unfortunate cases do crop up, it’s important to follow the letter of the law. As a landlord, you can’t evict a tenant over a simple disagreement or petty matter. There are codes and laws in Houston dictating how you must proceed and when eviction is permitted.
Houston property management companies reference these rules when it comes to deciding if a tenant can be legally evicted. If any of the following situations describe something you as a landlord are dealing with in relation to your own tenants, you may have grounds to evict.
1. Non-payment of rent.
When you allowed tenants to live on your property, you likely had them sign a lease or rental agreement. A proper lease specifies the amount of rent the tenant owes you to live on your property.
A tenant’s most basic responsibility is to pay the rent in full. Failure to do so is a violation of the tenant-landlord agreement. Before beginning the eviction process, you must typically send the tenant a Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. This informs the tenant he or she hasn’t paid rent, indicates the amount owed, and states if the rent isn’t paid, you will begin eviction proceedings.
There are occasions when a tenant may legally withhold rent. If you are not fulfilling your duties as a landlord and the property your tenants are occupying is a health or safety hazard, the tenants may refuse to pay you until you fix the problem. However, they must put their unpaid rent in an escrow account, not simply hold it personally.
2. Habitual late payments.
A lease specifies not only how much rent tenants must pay, but when this amount is due. In most cases, rent is to be paid every month, and usually by the first of the month. Some leases allow a grace period of five or ten days for tenants to pay that month’s rent.
Tenants paying rent late every month can lead to financial strife for you as a landlord, and Houston law recognizes this. If your tenants pay their rent late every month for a certain amount of time, you have grounds to evict them. As in all eviction cases, you must first present them with a notice of your grievance and request they rectify it.
3. Excessive property damage.
Most tenants provide a security deposit before moving in. This is usually in an amount of one or two month’s rent. At the end of the terms of the lease, you as the landlord assess the damage to the property and determine how much, if any, money is required to fix the damage. The remainder of the security deposit is returned to the tenants.
If your tenants inflict excessive damage to your property, particularly damage exceeding the cost of their security deposit, you have grounds to evict. This damage must be either intentional or caused by gross negligence. Examples may include a large hole in the exterior of your property or broken windows.
In these cases, it’s often advisable to not jump straight to eviction. Property management companies in the Woodlands advise their clients to first ask if the tenants are willing to repair the damage on their own dime. They often are, as eviction is not a pleasant or inexpensive process for a tenant.
4. Illegal use of property.
Many leases contain a provision indicating that tenants using your property for illegal actions or business are breaking the lease. Even if your lease doesn’t contain this provision, in Houston you may evict a tenant for breaking the law on your property. This may include drug use or sale. It can even be as simple as running an otherwise legal business out of your property, which has most likely been only zoned for residential use.
Every lease or rental agreement stipulates the duration a tenant is permitted to live at your property. After this time has expired, your tenant must either sign a new agreement or vacate the premises.
Many leases automatically change to month to month agreements after the original term is up. In these cases, you must provide notice to your tenant before beginning the eviction process. In cases when the lease is explicitly terminated and the tenant refuses to leave, you may begin filing for eviction immediately.
Holdover cases can be some of the messiest eviction proceedings. Typically, a tenant has less to lose in these scenarios than in other eviction cases.
Eviction is always legally difficult and it is inadvisable to dive into an eviction case without help. If you’re looking to evict tenants in Houston, a Houston property management company is the best way to protect yourself legally and financially. Property management companies ensure you go through every step of the eviction process properly, so your eviction case doesn’t get thrown out due to a technicality. The stress of an eviction case is lifted when you seek assistance.
To find out more about what a property management company can do for you, contact Green Residential today.