No one wants to carry out an eviction: they are often complicated and messy for everyone involved. Generally, most parties are happy to resolve issues before taking the final step involving the legal process. Still, there are times when an eviction is necessary. We know many property owners aren't rich "mega investors" who can afford to absorb rent losses—they are regular citizens who happen to own a rental property and still have bills to pay.
If this sounds like you, and you are wondering what to do during the DC suspension on evictions, we have some tips as your DC property management ally that might help you along! Of course, the best prevention for any eviction is a thorough screening process. If you have a DC property for rent, get in touch—and we can help you navigate the screening process from start to finish.
So, what can property investors do when their access to evictions is stripped away? Consider these alternative suggestions from the experts!
Note: This blog post does not act as a substitute for legal counsel. When in doubt, consult with your trusted attorney or Renters Warehouse DC/NOVA for real-time assistance concerning your DC rental homes!
The DC courts will eventually be accepting evictions, but most industry professionals are expecting an avalanche when the courts reopen—which means processing time is going to be slower than it would have been a year ago. While this isn't ideal if you have a renter who isn't paying the rent, sometimes it is the only option.
What should you do while waiting?
- Document everything: Take the time to document everything, ensure your records are organized, and your paperwork is perfectly filled out.
- Have a lawyer look through it: Few things are worse than having to wait a long time to evict when a tenant is damaging your property. However, having to wait longer because of an error you made in the process, or worse yet, losing the case, are both worse outcomes than having to wait initially.
Evictions are not guaranteed—so you might as well use your time to ensure you do it right!
Try to Collect
We hope that investors put forth a good effort to collect past due rent before moving to evict when late payment is the cause. Especially in the times of COVID-19, giving your renters a fighting chance to make things right is a good call when you have limited options.
Plus, you still have to consider existing law in DC: "If the tenant is being evicted due to non-payment of rent, the tenant has the right to avoid eviction by paying the total amount owed, as determined by the court, up until the time the eviction is executed." Since your renter has this option anyhow, make it easier for them and let them know!
Good people experiencing hard times will go the distance to make things right when given the opportunity. Be sure to let your renters know about the various resources available to them from the district.
As an expert in DC property management, we have an example of how to do this posted on our site to give you some ideas.
Continue to Send Notices
The rent is still due, after all. Most property owners only own a single rental property or a small collection of them, but that doesn't mean that you can afford to cover the rent long term—or even in the short term if you're also experiencing financial hardships during the pandemic.
When there is an emergency, people tend to prioritize whichever bills that are the most urgent. If you don't continue to send late notices and reminders to pay, your residents might assume that you will wait until they catch up with other bills. Many lenders are offering deferments right now, and by continuing to send late notices, you encourage your renter to use the resources available to them so they can prioritize the rent—even if evictions are on hold.
When Worse Comes to Worst, Pay Them!
There are a lot of different opinions out there about "Cash for Keys" programs, but at the end of the day, it is worth a shot when all else fails. What is Cash for Keys? Basically, you give your renter terms, such as "Move out within the next 20 days with the unit in a clean and rentable condition, and I'll pay you $300."
Are there some renters that take advantage of this offer? Absolutely. In the end, the decision is best made through a cost-benefit analysis. Contact your local DC property management professional and ask them what their current time on the market looks like.
- Is their vacancy time a month or less?
- Would you benefit from having rent income in the next month?
- Would you benefit more from continuing to have a rental property that is not bringing in the rent?
If so, this option might make sense for you!
Of course, no investor wants to have to pay a tenant to leave—but that payment might cover a storage unit and give your tenant some real options to leave early (and leave your property in great condition), so you don't have to bother with an eviction. The cost of Cash for Keys may even be less than an eviction in the end—so it is something to consider if your options have run dry.
Collecting rent during a crisis is a difficult task, and it's likely the number one reason many investors are considering their options for eviction as you read this. However, there are always alternatives you should try first—especially if your choices are limited.
If you need more tips on how to effectively and compassionately collect the rent, download our free guide on the subject! Stay safe and let us know if you need any help keeping your rental profitable moving forward.