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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My First Eviction: Eviction Notices and Lessons Learned...

Demand letter, followed by eviction notice
followed by disconnect notice from power company.

A couple of months ago I wrote about how I was trying to work with one of my tenants that was struggling to make the rent. At the time it seemed that we had worked out a solution to allow him to stay in the house until the New Year and then we would part ways. However, that solution apparently did not work and the tenant decided to vanish into thin air along with the rent for December... 

We had agreed to reduce the November and December rent to let him stay in the house. But December rolled around and no check. I was able to contact him at first and he gave me the whole "check is in the mail..." line. I delivered and mailed the Demand Letter shortly thereafter (pictured).

Sure enough the 15th of the month rolls around, still no check, and now he is not picking up the phone, returning voicemails or text messages.

I went by the house and it seemed no one had been by the house in a while, yet, a lot of his stuff was still at the house, hmmmm... 

This left me with only one choice...EVICTION!

Being this the first eviction in my landlord career (unfortunately this is a matter of when not if) I brushed up on Georgia Landlord-Tenant law to understand what I need to do as well as consult with several landlord colleagues I know.

The steps for eviction here in Georgia are basically as follows:

  1. After the 5th of the month if no rent received, tack and mail a demand letter to the tenant to "pay rent or quit". This needs to be both posted at the property and mailed to them.
  2. If no rent has been paid with late fees, if any, by the 15th then go to court house and file for dispossesory (eviction).
  3. Deliver dispossesory notice (aka eviction notice) to tenant. This needs to be delivered to property and posted on the front door (pictured).
  4. Once dispossesory notice is filed the tenant has 7 days to respond. Two things can happen: One, he answers and either pays the rent with late fees or disputes the dispossesory and you get a trial date to go in front of the judge and let the judge make a determination. Two, he does not answer and then you go back to the court house to get a writ of possession. This is basically an order to kick the tenant out with the help of the Sheriff.
  5. Get a date from the Sheriff department to evict the tenant.
  6. Meet the Sheriff at the house on the date they give you and have two guys per bedroom there to take all the tenants possesions out of the house and throw them out unto the curb. If the tenant doesn't take his stuff the items are considered abandoned and you can do whatever you want with them.
The good thing about consulting with other landlords was that one of them recommended an eviction service they have used in the past. The eviction service took care of steps #2 through #5 above including delivering the eviction notice.

This was great to me because I did not have to set foot in the court house, plus I was on vacation at the time so I was able to evict the tenant from a distance without having to interrupt my vacation!

The only bad part is that the Sheriff date is still a week away. So technically I can't rent the house yet. But the reality is that there is cleaning, paint and a few repairs I have to do to make the house rent ready again.

One more thing, I get to keep the tenants security deposit which covers Decembers rent and a bit more but I am out of pocket for January and the cost of cleaning and repairs to make the house rent ready.

This is why as a landlord it's CRITICAL to have cash reserves. Taking that cash flow that the property produces and saving as much of it as you can. I would say six months worth of mortgage payments is a good goal.

So now I am waiting on the Sheriff but in the mean time I will start with exterior repairs and cleanup and advertising so hopefully I can have the house rented by February. I will keep you posted.

Question: Have you had to evict a tenant before? Feel free to share your tenant story below.

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