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What to do when you’re forced to evict that perfect tenant

                “Landlords are just greedy monsters!”
                “Landlords don’t care about anything except their bottom line!”
I am sure you have seen multiple articles lately painting landlords as uncaring, vacant-of-human-emotion, money-hungry representations of “the man”. I can confidently confirm that this type of landlord represents the very small exception, not the rule. I meet thousands of landlords throughout the year when they hire me to handle their evictions, manage their rental properties, be their agent when buying or selling, and while teaching landlord training classes throughout Oregon. I can honestly say that I can count on one hand the number of landlords I have met in my lifetime who are truly that cold-hearted. Conversely, I meet many landlords who have a story about the great tenant they had to evict and what an emotional roller coaster it was for them.
                That doesn’t mean you should feel bad for the landlord. You should understand though, that landlords don’t get any pleasure from the eviction experience and would happily avoid it if they could.
                The general population seems to think that all landlords are rich investors who can easily afford to have a tenant miss a couple months of rent. Many landlords have just 1-5 units. These landlords are at a real risk of defaulting on their mortgages if tenants don’t pay. Although their tenant may be a good person who is simply down on their luck, to stay above water most landlords truly have no choice but to proceed with eviction.
                I recently read an article on the OPB website written by Amelia Templeton (link at bottom of this article) that really struck a chord with me and inspired this article. I encourage you to read it. She reported on a woman in Portland with schizophrenia who was evicted, became homeless, and ultimately passed away in a parking garage during recent cold snap. As Amelia writes in her article, the woman’s landlord contacted multiple organizations that provide support for people with the medical issues this tenant had, but in this case to no avail.
                What concerns me is that most landlords may not even know about the local organizations and government programs willing to help tenants facing homelessness, which provide things like housing, food, clothing, job/interview training, and even emergency financial assistance to pay past due rent. Many churches are also willing to provide temporary support to tenants so they can avoid becoming homeless. These are organizations that provide things like housing, food, clothing, job/interview training, and even emergency financial assistance to pay past due rent. All landlords should have contact information for the organizations that provide these kinds of services in their area. Sometimes simply making a phone call on someone’s behalf can go a long way to drastically change the outcome of their current situation. I have included a list of links to organizations and programs at the end of this article to use as a good starting point. Take the time to do some of your own research as well; there are more local organizations than you might think. Contact non-profit shelters, women’s groups, veterans’ groups, churches, and housing government housing authorities. Even if they can’t help, they most likely know of others in your community that can.
                There are some things landlords can do during the eviction process to make it easier for a tenant to apply to and be approved by one of these programs. When a tenant is late with rent, landlords have the choice of posting a 72 and/or a 144-hour non-payment of rent notice.
For most emergency financial assistance programs, a tenant must receive a non-payment of rent notice to even apply. Then it can take a few days for them to be approved and receive the rent funds. So, using a 144-hour notice gives them and the program a few extra days for the approval process. There is no delay to the eviction process, should that prove necessary, so it doesn’t adversely affect the landlord. This of course requires that the tenant act responsibly by way of communicating with the landlord about what is going on in their life and alerting him/her that they won’t be able to pay rent on time.
                Another way landlords can help tenants without it costing them money is to enter a stipulated agreement with the tenant. The first court date set in the eviction process is a hearing. The point of this hearing is to see if the landlord and tenant can reach an agreement, or if the situation will require a trial. If they do reach an agreement, it is recorded by the courts as a stipulated agreement. Typically, these agreements provide for a move-out date for the tenant or a payment arrangement for the past due rent.
                Stipulated agreements can benefit both sides. As a landlord, you need to understand that if tenants request a trial and you must hire the sheriff to remove them it will drag out the eviction process an additional two weeks at least. The benefit to the tenant is that if they agree to a stipulated agreement and follow through, the eviction case is dismissed and they avoid having an eviction on their record. The benefit to the landlord is that the tenant waives their right to a potentially expensive (for the landlord) and lengthy trial. If the tenant fails to perform, the landlord gets a quick judgment in their favor and can proceed to take the necessary steps to evict the tenant.
                Being a landlord doesn’t have to mean that you must be cold-hearted. Sometimes we have no choice but to evict tenants, both good and bad. There are ways that you can protect your bottom line while caring about your tenants. The most successful landlords that I have met have been those who can strike that balance between being strict enough to ear
n their tenants’ respect, while truly caring for their well-being.
Christian Bryant
IRC Real Estate & Property Management
Specializing in Property Management, Evictions, & Residential/Commercial Sales for Investors
Where to find local support for tenants: