Whatever you do, don’t wait too long to evict a tenant. Remember, non-payment of rent is not a personal attack on you and you need to stay professional as a property manager. Having an attorney right from the start will enable you feel empowered knowing you have everything you need to evict, should the need arise to do so.

In today’s tough economic times, when foreclosures and evictions are at an all time high, landlords everywhere must take steps to ensure they are protected before a problem arises. The best way to do so is to hire an eviction attorney — before you need one. Taking this precautionary step will save you time and money should an eviction become eminent. Here are some tips to keep in mind when hiring an eviction attorney:

Find a good attorney ahead of time:
One of the most important rules of thumb to remember is that as a landlord, no matter what, always be prepared for people that may neglect to pay their rent. Hiring a good eviction attorney is part of this preparation process. Take your time and interview several attorneys to get a feel for how they work and whether or not the two of you can develop a sound professional relationship. You should be on the same page in terms of how soon to begin an eviction and how involved you need to be on the legal end of the process. Look for an attorney that has a good record of accomplishment in resolving eviction cases in favor of the landlord and make sure whomever you choose has a solid background in property management law.

When you find an attorney, find out what you need to evict: Once you have determined to hire, you then need to go over everything you need to begin and process an eviction. Depending on where you live, local laws govern how tenants can be evicted; this is where an attorney can provide guidance. Gather all of your appropriate paperwork ahead of time and be prepared. You may not need the various forms right away, but eventually a problem will arise and when it does, you won’t have to waste time trying to get what you need to evict; you and your attorney will have all of the forms you need to begin an eviction.

Formulate a schedule and stick with it: Put together a timeline on evicting and stick with it! If you have good communication with a tenant, it’s okay to be a little lenient. After all, bad things can happen to good people and as long as they continue to communicate with you, you can allow them some flexibility.

However, if they won’t answer calls or letters, then zero tolerance is the answer and you must take immediate legal action. The way to form a schedule is to use a site that specializes in property management forms to use late notices to establish a pattern of communication on your end.

For example, you would send a notice after the rent is three days late. Then, send another notice after the rent is one week late. Keep copies of each notice you send to your tenant. This information should be added to your eviction file and given to the courts, if necessary.

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