Owning and managing a rental property in San Antonio, TX can be a great secondary or even primary source of income. Texas’ booming real estate market has made this even more of a reality for many people who own rental properties. But a tenant that doesn’t pay rent or violates lease terms can put a damper on that venture. Here are some questions to answers to get you ready for evicting your problem tenant and back to making significant second income. To see our page on Evictions, Click Here
1. Why do you want to evict the tenant?
Determine why you are evicting this tenant. Are they behind on rent? Are they paying rent at all? Have there been substantial violations of the lease agreement? Each of these situations will play out differently depending on the actions you have taken so far. Find which one best suits your situation and look below at that section for more details on how to best prepare for eviction for that reason.
2. Has there been a “substantial violation” of the lease agreement?
The reason we say “substantial violation” is simply, because the violation needs to be substantial enough to warrant the eviction process. Legally, Texas landlords can evict a tenant for any violation of the lease agreement, provided that rule in the lease is legal in itself. However, we need to understand that eviction is a serious process and not to be entered into lightly— retaining an attorney and starting the eviction process because the tenant has one too many plants on their patio, or had one noise complaint is probably not the most economic solution. Once the process starts, you and your tenant will be in for significant legal fees and responsibilities under Texas Statutes.
3. How far is the tenant behind on rent?
The answer to this one is, honestly, it doesn’t matter. If rent payments are late, you as the landlord are entitled to demand the amount due or possession of the premises. This includes all past due rent, such as from partial payments from previous months, as well as full rental payments for the current lease term. When you make your demand of the amount currently due, be sure to include all back-owed amounts as well as the current outstanding rent. For example, if a 1 year lease tenant who pays monthly rent of $1,000 on the first of each month per the lease, has fallen behind in their rent $100 for each of the past three months, AND has failed to pay the current month’s rent by the 3rd of the month, the demand would be for $1,300 (the back-owed rent plus the current owed rent) plus any applicable late fees and charges. Under this option, the tenant will have the option to pay up the full amount and become current on their payments and remain on the property.
4. What if the tenants say they are not paying because I have failed to fix/maintain the property?
Tenants in Texas do not have the explicit right to withhold rent from their landlord because of a failure to fix or repair some damage to the property. A landlord has a duty to make repairs when given notice of the need for a repair by the tenant ONLY WHEN the tenant is not already behind on rent. Interestingly, if a Tenant illegally withholds rent, the landlord may actually file suit against the tenant.
Tenants MAY have repairs performed themselves and deduct the amount of the repair from their monthly rent but ONLY if they give notice of the needed repair, time for the landlord to remedy it, notice of their intent to have it repaired, AND have the repair work done by a company licensed to perform that repair.
5. Am I ready to evict this problem tenant?
If any of the above sections apply to you–YES! Depending on the complexity of the case, an experienced property management attorney or eviction attorney for landlords can have your eviction rolling the same day you bring them all the information and documents they need. It is absolutely essential that you hire an attorney for this process–the slightest misstep or inadequate service or notice can hold up an eviction and further put your investment at risk.
Evicting a tenant is a complicated and heavily regulated process that can often be overwhelming for landlords to take on by themselves. Hiring an experienced attorney to help the eviction go smoothly and efficiently may mean paying for something you feel as though you may be able to do yourself, but the peace of mind that comes with having an experienced advocate may well be worth the cost. San Antonio Real Estate Lawyer Nathaniel Gilbert has represented both landlords and tenants in residential, commercial, and agricultural lease evictions and knows the common obstacles and boundaries in Colorado eviction laws and processes. Consult with your local attorney for landlords early on in the eviction process, even if you think you may do it yourself, to help answer your questions regarding the process.