The Emotions of Eviction
February 1, 2000
Evictions are ugly. The tenant is getting booted out of his or her home, albeit rightfully so. And the landlord is in for untold emotional, financial and legal hassles.
A landlord’s eviction-induced emotional headaches fall into three categories: guilt, shame and anger. Evictions rank right up there with other high-stress events– marriage, moving, and IRS audits.
Intellectually you know the bad tenant has it coming, but you still can’t help feeling guilty about the eviction. Get rid of that guilt. The tenant is stealing from you. He has stolen your home, possibly stolen your utilities, and definitely stolen your hard-earned investment. The tenant is a thief!
If you want to give your apartment away rent free or have someone trash it or sell drugs out of it, shouldn’t that be your decision and not the tenant’s? Finally, ask yourself– what if I didn’t evict this tenant? What would be the result?
Shame results from the suspicion that you failed with this tenant. This nagging feeling lurks in the back of your head that if you had done better selecting a tenant, you wouldn’t be going through this mess now. Evicting the tenant is like admitting that you made a mistake. Maybe it was bad selection to start with, but aren’t you better off looking at the eviction as a lesson learned, cutting your losses, and getting on with business?
Maybe you didn’t select badly, but the tenant changed. A good friend of mine, also a landlord, evicted a tenant two years ago. For the first year, she had been a model tenant. Then almost overnight she transformed into someone with an eviction wish. The wild parties, not paying the rent, and refusing to speak to her landlord, other than rudely, led my friend to conclude she’d started doing drugs. Without shame he evicted her.
Anger is the emotion of “they took advantage of me,” and “I’ll show them!” “Showing them” is a splendid idea. Just make sure that when you “show them” that you don’t mess up the eviction. Too often anger results in landlords making one of the 16 mistakes that loses an eviction.
Very common is writing something extra on the notices demanding payment such as “pay up, deadbeat!” and “I don’t care if you pay or not, you’re out!” Extra comments on forms and letters will ensure that the judge lets your bad tenant stay.
Another anger-induced reaction and sure way to lose an eviction is harassment of the tenant. That’s when you call– daily, twice daily, hourly– to say that you want him out, or repeatedly visit the property to “see if he’s moved yet.” Hold your temper or hire an eviction specialist–the emotional and financial cost is infinitely lower than the trauma of a lost eviction.
Evictions are a fact of business for landlords. You don’t need to feel guilt or shame, and good business sense demands that you keep your anger under control.