How to Handle Evictions in Charleston When You Can't Evict

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Many parts of the country have instituted temporary bans on eviction during a particularly difficult time in 2020 as the novel Coronavirus pandemic burned through our nation. While these bans will end soon or have already ended, this measure helped to ensure temporary lodging stability when so much was up in the air across April, May, and June.

However, when it comes to property management, Charleston, SC landlords, we know that not every renter went into the pandemic on equal footing. Some of your renters may have been eager to work with you on missed payments to remain in a rental property. Others may have taken advantage of the protections afforded by the CARES Act or the state legislature to simply avoid paying their rent.

As an expert in Charleston residential real estate, we know that scammers don't stop scamming because a crisis has unfolded! If anything, they're even more likely to be active now during all the chaos. So, how do you weather this season while also recognizing that you are working with a tenant that has purposefully violated their lease? Here are some answers to help you move forward as a property owner.

A quick note: While this blog post is designed to give you some tips to safeguard your rental property, this post is not intended as legal advice! When in doubt, work through such situations with trusted property management, Charleston, SC landlords! 

Understand That Delays Do Happen

Eviction is a process that ends up taking quite a long time in Charleston, as well as many other places. Consider that it will likely take even longer than usual as the courts begin to reopen due to a backlog of cases or a flood of sudden filings. With this in mind, it's wise to be patient—especially during a pandemic.

While the changes caused by the virus may feel unprecedented, these are not the only reasons to want to try to avoid an eviction. For instance, sometimes letting a tenant know that eviction is likely because of their current behavior will result in positive changes. When you're banned from evictions—whether by state law or a federal one—finding alternative means to address dangerous or undesirable behavior is crucial to keeping your other renters safe and secure.

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If You Haven't Been, Document Everything

You are still allowed to speak with your tenants about missed and late payments right now, whether to create a payment plan or other method of handling their outstanding rent. If your issue with your tenants is due to disruption or property damage, you can still attempt to secure payment for damage repair or make clear requests that they reduce noise or other disruptions in the home. 

  • When you make contact, write down a log of each interaction and retain copies of written communication, whether it's an email, text, or letter. It's better not to confront your renters in-person about these issues.
  • A string of broken promises or dangerous behavior from a tenant is critical to keep for future eviction proceedings, and they help to distinguish a tenant who has fallen on hard times from a tenant who is trying to get a few months of free rent before being evicted.

Send the Correct Notices, So Tenants Understand the Situation

  • You can still advise tenants who have stopped paying rent—or in another way have continued to violate their lease terms—that they will be evicted.
  • This process may vary depending on where your rental properties are located, so make sure you are abiding by the latest COVID-19 related eviction law.
  • If you are doing so, you can be sure that you've completed all the necessary steps so that, when the ban on evictions is lifted, you can move forward.
  • Your goal at that point is to secure your next high-quality renter when it comes to your Charleston, SC rental home, whenever it is legally possible to do so. 

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Keep Your Word: Evict When Possible

As an expert in property management, Charleston, SC landlords, we know that eviction should always be a last resort for property owners. Unfortunately, it can sometimes become necessary—especially in situations where your current renters are endangering others or damaging your property.

While it can be frustrating to have to complete an eviction rather than having the tenant move out on their own, when you are able to do so, follow through. By making your process clear, you may even prevent some future evictions. You'll have a reputation for keeping your word and be able to say that you don't discriminate.

When you're legally able to do so, work with your attorney or your property management partner to pursue an eviction the right way.

Eviction Is One of the Hardest Things You'll Do as a Landlord

Even if you follow all these guidelines, waiting for and then completing an eviction isn't easy. This makes seeking guidance from qualified property management, Charleston, SC landlords, a tremendous asset.

  • Your property manager is laser-focused on assisting you and providing the best rental experience possible for your tenants.
  • Your property management company acts as a professional, third-party buffer between you and renter disputes, removing bias.
  • Professional property managers understand the law concerning eviction and have valuable insight when it comes to managing eviction proceedings.
  • Skilled property management companies have been communicating with tenants for years, and know how to make payment plans or other eviction-avoidance methods work.

With a property manager on your side, you're removed from being invested in the situation personally and have a professional ally on your side to manage your property when the situation takes a turn.

However, not all property management services are of the same quality: only an expert understands the rapid changes in the rental market right now. When you have a skilled partner, you have someone to help you evaluate situations with tenants and—whenever possible—turn them into positive opportunities. 

Have more questions about the complexities of the crisis for landlords when it comes to rent payments? Download our Collecting Rent in a Crisis Handbook for more tips to help you through.

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