Think back to when you first dipped your toes into the investment property pool. You were likely excited about the prospects of additional income and building equity. But chances are you were also scared about a few of the more formidable aspects of property management. Some property owners worry about big-ticket emergency maintenance. Others fret that they will have a long vacancy. But nearly all rental property owners worry about one thing most of all: evictions. There is no way to sugar coat it, evictions are bad. The good news is, with help from an experienced Atlanta property management company you can avoid evictions when possible, and protect yourself from the hassle and cost of an eviction if it becomes inevitable.
Why Proper Tenant Screening is Important
How do you avoid an eviction? Most investment property owners don’t realize that avoiding evictions starts before you even place a tenant. When your property is sitting vacant, it may be tempting to approve the first tenant who comes along. After all, vacancy days are expensive and the sooner you place a tenant the sooner you will start collecting rent. But neglecting to properly screen your tenant can end up costing more than an extended vacancy.
In order to qualify for your rental home, a potential tenant must fill out a rental application and submit it to screening. Every resident over 18 must fill out a rental application, whether or not they will be responsible for rent payments. To avoid any delays, tenants must fill out their application completely before turning it into the property management company. Atlanta tenant screening should include the following checks:
- Background Check
- Credit Check
- Income Verification
- Employment Verification
- Rental History
The perfect tenant will be highly qualified in every aspect listed above. However, there is some room for leniency, which is why it is helpful to have an experienced property management company to help pick the right tenant. For example, a low credit score does not always mean the tenant will be a bad fit. Look for red flags like bankruptcy, unpaid utility bills, and especially prior evictions. Our expert property managers know how to navigate the nuances of tenant screening in order to pick the best candidate for your rental property.
Avoiding Evictions Before They Start With Professional Communication
One of the easiest ways to start out in real estate investing is to turn your personal single-family home into a rental home when you move out. However, while it may make sense financially, it can be tough emotionally. It is difficult to see another family live in the home you loved, cared for, and still own. For this reason, many homeowners find the transition from resident to Atlanta property management difficult.
What does feeling emotional have to do with evictions? When you feel an emotional attachment to your rental property, it is difficult to treat it as a business. Interactions with your tenant are colored by the fact that their home was once your home. Bad tenant interactions at best lead to turnover, and at worst lead to evictions and property damage. Professional communication in property management is important, which is why hiring an expert property manager is helpful. We have found that an experienced property manager can effectively address tenant issues like lease violations in a way that leaves any animosity out of it.
A Strong and Enforceable Lease
Lease agreements lay out the terms of the lease, from what day the rent is due to who is responsible for lawn care. Leases can vary widely in the state of Georgia, it is up to each property owner to decide what to include in the agreement. Many first-time property owners use a simple lease template and fill in the particulars. While this approach is easy at the beginning, it proves difficult and frustrating for both tenants and property management. Atlanta property owners must consider the uniqueness of their property to create a strong and enforceable lease.
Your tenant should be able to reference their lease for basic information such as the property management’s contact information, how much the rental deposit is, and when the lease expires. To avoid any confusion or frustration we recommend also including the following terms in your lease agreement:
- Occupation limits
- Subleasing restrictions
- Lawn care requirements
- Tenancy term and lease renewal terms
- Pet policy and associated pet fees
- Policies on property damage, loud noise, and disorderly behavior
- Maintenance responsibility
- Structural modification restrictions (i.e. painting the walls or installing a security system)
- Restrictions on running a business out of the home (such as a daycare)
Keep in mind, it does not matter whether you prohibit certain things, such as painting the walls, or not. What matters is clearly stating your policy. Your tenant should be able to reference the lease for most questions that arise during the rental cycle. For more information about lease agreements visit this post.
How Atlanta Property Management Handles Evictions
Of course, even with strict tenant screening, great communication, and a strong lease, you may still find yourself facing an eviction. Sometimes the unexpected happens, and the tenant who looked great on paper ends up continually missing rent payments or causing major property damage. When an eviction becomes inevitable, what is the best way to go about it?
In Georgia, property owners may begin the eviction process after non-payment of rent. The eviction process is as follows:
- Surrender and Vacate: The tenant receives a notice to surrender and vacate the property from the landlord.
- Dispossessory Affidavit: After notice is given, if the tenant refuses to vacate, the landlord may file a dispossessory affidavit. The affidavit provides the details of the broken lease and is served to the tenant by a sheriff.
- Affidavit Answer: The tenant has seven days to answer a dispossessory affidavit in court or in writing.
- Court Hearing: A judge hears the case and rules for or against the landlord.
- Writ of Possession: When the judge rules in favor of the landlord, the landlord must request a writ of possession. A writ of possession requires the tenant to move out within seven days.
Evictions are difficult for inexperienced property management. Atlanta property owners must closely follow all eviction laws in order to move the process forward as quickly as possible. Making a small mistake may drag out the process, and every day your tenant does not pay rent you are losing money. This is one reason that working with an experienced property management company is so important. With almost 30 years of experience in the business, Specialized Property Management Atlanta can help you navigate an eviction efficiently. Our experts know when an eviction becomes inevitable and will move you through the process quickly, so your home can get back on the market as soon as possible.
Protect Yourself from the Hassle of Evictions
If managing your property through an eviction sounds time-consuming, expensive, and stressful, that is because it is. This is why it is so important for property owners to take steps to avoid evictions from the beginning. However, as we mentioned earlier, sometimes an eviction becomes inevitable. When that happens, you need to know your investment is not at risk. Fortunately, with our Atlanta property management Eviction Protection Guarantee, you won’t have to deal with any of those stresses. In the event an eviction is necessary we will:
- Communicate with your tenant about late rent, due dates, and fees.
- Send a notice to surrender and vacate.
- File paperwork required for a dispossessory affidavit.
- Work with an attorney to prepare and file court documents.
- Request a Writ of Possession.
Our experts will take care of every step of the process for tenants we have placed who must be evicted within the first ten months of their lease. After the first ten months, property owners may choose to extend their Eviction Protection Guarantee. This low-cost, optional program protects you from the hassle and cost of an eviction. Property owners already know they can rest easy with their rental homes under our care, but our Eviction Protection Guarantee adds extra peace of mind. For more information about our Eviction Protection Guarantee, visit our Specialized Guarantees page.
Looking for Property Management? Atlanta Experts are Here to Help
Property management is a complex industry where small mistakes and misunderstandings can lead to turnover or evictions. Specialized Property Management Atlanta is one of the highest-rated property management companies in Atlanta because we have the experience necessary to avoid common mistakes and get a better return on investment. Our team works hard to ensure your property is well cared for and your tenants are happy.
If you are tired of the constant headache of self-management, give Specialized Property Management Atlanta a call. Our team of experts manage every aspect of the rental cycle, from daily tasks like rent collection to occasional needs like evictions. All you need to do is sit back, relax, and watch your investment succeed.
To learn more about our comprehensive property management services, visit our services page. Call 404-862-8980 today to set up a professional management quote.