July 11, 2019

Eviction Is a Last Resort: Try These 3 Mediation Techniques First!

It can be a landlord's biggest fear: an issue with a tenant that snowballs into eviction. While it does happen—though you should be prepared to deal with evictions regardless—it's not as common as you might think! Eviction should be a last resort when dealing with a problematic tenant situation—so what can a landlord do to avoid eviction? 

Before we proceed, note that any time you consider eviction, consult with a lawyer: this article isn't legal advice. Consider these tips with caution when working through or considering the process of a tenant's removal from your Novi rental property.  

What is Eviction?

Before we look at alternatives, let's make sure we understand what eviction is: a legal process of informing renters that you've ended their tenancy, often before the end of a lease term. 

According to Michigan law, a landlord must have a valid reason for evicting a tenant. The process begins by providing written notices to a tenant, alerting them that their lease is over and they must vacate the property. If a tenant refuses to leave, you can then file with the court to begin the legal process of eviction. Ultimately, it's an expensive and time-consuming process. It's not an ideal solution, but it can legally remove a bad tenant—if necessary. 

Before you move forward with filing anything at the court, there are a few things you can do to avoid evictions with your tenants.

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Alternative #1: Enact a Payment Plan

Remember, you're not your tenant's friend: your rental property is a business and part of your livelihood. If you’re considering an eviction due to late payments, work with your tenant on a plan to catch up. 

Consider creating a payment plan that allows your tenant to catch up in smaller, more frequent increments. 

  1. Create a document that lists each payment missed, the amount, and any applicable fees for late or missed payments. 
  2. Total the amount owed. 
  3. Map out a schedule of small payments over a set time-frame⎯within three to six months. Try a weekly payment amount with a set day each week for payments. 
  4. Include penalties for any missed weekly payments. Be sure you also note that failure to make the payments or repay the full amount owed by the due date results in vacating the property. 

Review the plan with your tenant and make sure you both agree on the terms. 

Alternative #2: Send a 7-Day Notice 

If the payment plan fails to encourage your tenant to catch up on late rent payments, you can begin the process of getting the tenant out of your rental property. 

Michigan law requires landlords to provide a 7-Day Notice for tenants to vacate a property. Be sure you consult with a lawyer to make sure you go through the legal steps to deliver the notice to your tenant. 

The 7-Day Notice (known as "Demand for Possession" or "Notice to Quit for Nonpayment of Rent") gives your tenant time to find a new place to live and voluntarily leave your property without an eviction. Plus, this 7-Day time-frame allows you to look for a new tenant for your Novi rental property.  

Alternative #3: Offer Cash for Keys

This approach might seem like the opposite of your goal to recover lost rental income⎯but it’s effective. 

In most cases, paying your tenant to leave peacefully is less expensive than going through a lengthy and costly eviction process. With cash for keys, you offer your tenant a lump sum of money to leave your investment property. However, the offer is not without some stipulations: 

  1. You and your tenant must agree on the payment amount. 
  2. The tenant must leave the property within your agreed time-frame. 
  3. The tenant must also leave the property clean and in good condition. 

If they miss the deadline to vacate or leave a mess and damage behind, you can withdraw your offer and move forward with an eviction. 

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Get Help If It Comes down to Eviction

Terrible tenants are stressful and can be expensive—Eviction is also a daunting and pricey process. Before you decide eviction is your only option, try the suggested alternatives to resolve the problem: if it doesn't work, you at least tried to mitigate the situation first.

If you must move forward with eviction for your Novi investment property, consult with an attorney; work with a property manager that offers eviction services, like JMZ Property Management. We offer these services and numerous more to our landlord-partners. You don't have to worry about dealing with the horrors of eviction when you leave your property in our capable hands. 

One of the best things you can do as a landlord to protect yourself from reaching a point where a tenant eviction might be necessary is to pre-screen your tenants. Download our FREE Foolproof Tenant Screening Checklist today, and avoid nightmare tenants from the start!

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Topics: hiring a property manager, landlord tips, Eviction