Worst-case scenarios are an unfortunate, if hopefully occasional, reality if you’re a landlord. It’s not unreasonable to accept that you might face one of the following challenges at some point in your career as an investor.
You’d be smart to prepare for the worst, but expect the best. If you end facing any of the following situations, you’ll be gratified that you planned ahead.
1. Evicting a tenant you actually like
Evictions are hard to deal with, but evicting a tenant you actually like can be really hard. Not all evictions are knock-down, drag-out fights. Some tenants know they have to leave, but they don’t have anywhere to go. Most of these evictions happen due to unpaid rent.
You should be prepared to evict a tenant you like. Remember that you can’t solve the root issue that caused them to fall behind. But you can try to help them by providing directions to resources such as food banks, shelters, and benefit programs.
2. Evicting a squatter
Evicting a squatter is every landlord’s nightmare. Unfortunately, landlord-tenant laws lean so far in the tenant’s favor that even squatters have tenant rights.
If you call the police and report a squatter as a trespasser, but the trespasser claims to live on the property, the police won’t remove him or her. Police have no way to know whether a trespasser really belongs there. Without a court order, the only way officials will remove an intruder is if the person commits a different crime that’s worthy of arrest.
To get a squatter off your property, you have to go through a formal eviction process and get the case heard by a judge. That can take a few weeks to a few months. In the meantime, if you had the utilities on when the squatter moved in, you may not shut them off to force him out. That means you’ll be paying the electricity and gas bills until you win your case.
Evict squatters immediately or risk losing your property
The situation with squatters in Texas can get even worse. If you allow a squatter to reside on your property for ten years without filing eviction papers through the court, that individual can end up owning your property without paying a dime.
A squatter who resides on a property continuously for ten years or more (alone) is no longer regarded as a criminal trespasser under the law. He or she can file a claim of “Adverse Possession” and take ownership of your property for free.
Adverse possession in San Antonio, TX is complex and not something you ever want to have to deal with. The best way to prepare for this is to prevent it from the start by regularly checking your vacant properties and making sure you don’t allow anyone else to pay your property taxes.
3. Evicting a tenant for reasons unrelated to COVID-19
The moratoriums on eviction during the coronavirus pandemic do not consist of a blanket ban. They apply only to people who haven’t paid rent due to COVID-19-related reasons.
For example, someone who lost her job because of the economic shutdowns is protected under the moratorium. However, someone who got fired for breaking company rules would not be protected.
Not all tenants understand the distinction. If you give a tenant a three-day notice to vacate for keeping animals without having paid a pet deposit (if required in the lease), he might try to fight you on the matter and insist you cannot evict.
On the other hand, though you would be in the right to evict the tenant for a lease violation, the courts are backed up and it could take a long while before your case is heard.
You can prepare for this possibility by printing out the eviction moratorium laws and giving them to tenants if they don’t understand how their eviction could be legal. Also, have a plan for moving fast with your paperwork in order to get your case heard quickly.
You should also be aware that a federal judge in Texas ruled the moratorium unconstitutional. If you need to evict a tenant for any reason, consult with an attorney first.
4. Finding out your tenant painted your house an obnoxious color
Do you ever see those documentaries about people who painted their houses strange colors and patterns, and all the neighbors got mad so it turned into a painting war? That happens more often than it should.
Sometimes people paint their houses obnoxious colors for other reasons. For example, Texas real estate investor Nick Disney, the owner of Sell My Antonio House, was shocked to discover one of his tenants had painted his house bright purple.
The tenant said his wife left him and he thought he could bring her back by painting the house her favorite color. Disney’s tenant probably seemed like a normal guy when he initially rented the house. He probably had no reason to expect he would ever paint the house purple.
So you ought to be prepared to handle such a scenario. Even rational people do strange things out of rage and desperation.
5. Discovering your tenant is attempting to sell your house
They say lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice, but that’s not true. Texas real estate investor Nick Disney had the bizarre experience of discovering a tenant tried to sell his house.
Disney rented the house to a woman who always paid rent on time. There were no problems with her until he received a call from someone who asked if he owned the structure. The caller told Disney she had moved into the home and paid a $2,000 down payment to the previous tenant.
To keep an eye on your property, you should probably save some alerts with your address to get an email or text if your house is ever listed for sale or posted to Craigslist.
Tenants do the craziest things
Even if you’re a great judge of character, you can’t predict the future. Even the quietest, most respectful tenants do weird things you’d never have anticipated.
Be prepared to encounter unknown and frustrating situations. Many of these will probably never happen to most San Antonio investors, but they happen. All you can do is try to be prepared for anything that comes your way.
Want to avoid problematic tenants? Green Residential can help
Though some problem tenants manage to fly under the radar, others raise obvious red flags that indicate a potential for mischief. If you’re not experienced enough to perceive those flags, bad tenants will slip through the cracks.
At Green Residential, our team of professional property managers have extensive experience with identifying red flags and making sure our clients only get the best quality of tenants. We can make your life as a landlord so much easier with superior tenant screening and tenant selection services.
Contact us today to learn more about all the services we provide.