With the national eviction moratorium shut down, Texas landlords are resuming evictions and overwhelming the courts.
Currently, eviction lawsuits in Houston are taking time to move through the system and the court costs haven’t gotten any cheaper. Unless your tenant is a danger to the health and safety of others, you may want to consider the following 8 eviction alternatives.
1. Work with them on their issue(s)
As the landlord, you’re the boss. However, it’s important to try to maintain a good relationship with your tenants. If you can find out why your tenant is having issues that are causing you to lean toward eviction, you might be able to solve the problem.
For instance, say your tenant lives in a unit built inside of a garage, and the inside of the garage is shared space. Now, say you want your tenant to use the side door that goes directly into their home and not the front door that leads to the garage first.
If your tenant uses the wrong door to enter their home, there might be a reason. Their designated door might not have even ground or lighting. Your tenant might have a disability you don’t know about that requires them to walk on even ground. Not all tenants know they can or should request a reasonable accommodation.
Whatever the issue is, ask your tenant to share their concerns and see if you can work things out.
2. Be a little more flexible
Are you looking to evict because your tenant is breaking the rules? Reconsider your rules and see if you can be a little more flexible. Your tenant might be breaking rules that aren’t a big deal.
For example, if your lease allows your tenant to have one car, but they have a second car that runs and has current tabs, consider letting them slide. It’s not worth evicting someone over having a second car.
3. Offer to let them move to a smaller unit
When your tenant can’t pay the rent, offer to let them move into a smaller, cheaper unit. That might be all they need to continue paying rent and avoid eviction.
4. Renegotiate the monthly rent
Evictions cost money and can drag out in court for months. If you want to evict a tenant who can’t pay the rent, offer to renegotiate the rent. Drop the rent by $50 or $100 per month, or more if you can afford the cut.
This option won’t work for every situation, but if your tenant is otherwise great, you can avoid all kinds of legal fees and wasted time by dropping the rent. If you drop the rent by $100 per month, you’ll generate $1200 less per year. However, you might end up spending double or triple that on an eviction.
5. Ask how you can help
It never hurts to ask your tenant how you can help. This won’t work with every tenant, but some tenants are reactive or combative because they’re struggling with something.
You might be able to avoid eviction if you can help your tenant get through a rough patch in their life. However, don’t let your tenant take advantage of you.
6. Seek mediation
As long as your tenant’s issue isn’t non-payment of rent, mediation can help. If you’re in conflict with your tenant, a mediator can alleviate tensions and help you work out a solution.
If your tenant is experiencing financial hardship, a mediator can assist in creating a repayment plan for back rent. However, any agreements formed with a mediator aren’t legally binding unless you make those changes part of a lease amendment.
In Texas, provided your changes are legal, you can amend a month-to-month lease whether your tenant agrees with the changes or not. However, you can amend a longer lease with your tenant’s agreement.
7. Offer them “cash for keys”
Sometimes you can get tenants to leave on their own by offering them cash to vacate by a specific date you both agree on. Eviction is costly, and offering a tenant cash to move out will save you time and money.
When a tenant accepts your cash offer to move out, draw up an official notice and serve that notice to your tenant as you would any other lease amendment. Post the notice to their front door and mail them a copy via certified mail.
Once your tenant receives the official notice, you can plan a date for your move-out inspection. From there, you’ll treat the situation as you would any other normal move-out. Assess the property for damages, perform repairs, deduct damages from the security deposit, and return any remaining portion of their deposit within the legally required period of time in Texas (30 days). Be sure to include a receipt for any security deposit deductions made.
8. Don’t renew the lease
If you want to evict a tenant, you might be able to get them to move by not renewing their lease. If their rent increases once they go month-to-month, that might be enough to make them leave.
Don’t want to deal with court paperwork? We’ll handle evictions for you
Sometimes eviction is the only way to remove a problem tenant from your Houston property. However, you can expect to fill out a ton of paperwork, and you’ll need to show up to court several times. If that’s not how you want to spend your time, you need a property management company.
When you work with Green Residential, our Houston property management team will help you do everything possible to avoid eviction. When eviction is the only option, we’ll handle everything for you, so you don’t have to worry about making any mistakes.
You can lose your eviction case if you don’t follow Texas law to the letter. Commissioners and judges often rule in favor of the tenant when the landlord breaks the law willfully or through ignorance.
When you must evict, be sure to comply with Texas landlord-tenant laws. If you’re not confident in your knowledge of the law, contact Green Residential today to see how we can help.