Sometimes no matter how effective your screening process was and how solid the tenant seemed, it becomes necessary to evict them from your property. Evicting a tenant is the legal process that allows a landlord to regain control of their property. Each state has different rules for the process, and if not adhered to exactly, you could be forced to start all over again. We are going to touch on three common eviction mistakes landlords make that often cause serious headaches and incur unnecessary costs.
There are several reasons why you as the landlord could want to evict a tenant including:
- Non-payment of rent
- Damage to the property
- Breaching the rental agreement or contract
- Acting in a way that is dangerous to public safety
Self-eviction is illegal and should not be attempted by the landlord. Alaska has strict laws on how the eviction process works and these must be followed exactly. As the owner, you do have options, so please don’t do any of the following or any other self-eviction tactics:
- Changing the locks
- Harassing the tenant to force them out of the property
- Turning off utilities to deprive the tenant of heat, light, and water
- Emptying the property of the tenant’s belongings
Not Following the Process
Alaska law requires landlords serve tenants with a Notice to Quit and this is the first step in the eviction process. Of course, there are different requirements for notice time depending on the type of infraction. For example, a notice to quit for non-payment requires a 7-day window in which time the tenant can pay rent and stay in the property. If you need to evict because the tenant has not paid utilities or you can prove criminal behavior, you only have to give 5-days notice. Some infractions require ten notice, some only 24 hours. It is vital that you know how much time you have to give for which infraction and that you follow this first step to the letter.
If the processes are followed correctly, they can get lengthy and are complicated. They could include the following:
- Service of Notice
- Alaska Forcible Entry & Detainer Action (2 phases)
- Eviction Hearing
- Damages Hearing
Not following these process in the right order will prevent you from getting your tenant out.
Having the correct and complete documentation can be the difference between moving through the process somewhat smoothly or not moving at all. It may still be time-consuming, but documentation will prevent you from disappearing into the hellish black hole that evicting a tenant can become.
Here are some examples of documentation you will need, and remember it is dependant on the reason you are evicting the tenant.
- Copy of signed lease agreement
- Copy of notice to quit
- Bank statements to prove non-payment of rent
- Copies of ALL correspondence between you and your tenant
- Pictures of damages
- Copies of complaints from other tenants
- Copies of police records
- Any other evidence supporting your notice to quit