The city of Spokane boasts of many fine attractions. Notable lures include a thriving economy, stunning architecture, and numerous outdoor recreation options. It explains why rental property investors are attracted to the area. While finding tenants in Spokane is very achievable, ensuring that the occupants pay the rent promptly may not be as easy.
At times, a tenant might even stop paying the rent altogether. If you are the landlord in such a situation, how do you handle it? The following are a few pointers on what to do when a Spokane tenant stops paying rent.
Assess the tenant’s rental history
The minute you discover that your tenant has stopped paying the rent, you need to ascertain his or her rent payment history. Have they behaved similarly before, or is it the first time? If this is the first time you’re having issues with the tenant perhaps there is a very good reason why they missed the rent payment.
Talk with the tenant
If your tenant stops paying rent, yet he or she used to pay promptly without any problem, you need to find out why. Take the time and engage the person. You can do so through a face to face interaction, over a phone call, or via email. Whatever outlet you use, make sure to document the meeting.
During the conversation, ask the tenant why their rent wasn’t paid. While at it, clarify that the only way the person can continue staying in the premises, is if they pay the rent promptly. You should also ask the person to give you a plan of how he or she intends to pay back the due rent.
If the tenants are unable to pay, notify them that you are prepared to terminate the lease without any penalties.
Review the lease agreement
Before attempting to remove a tenant for nonpayment, it is critical that you review the lease agreement. Moreover, it is imperative for you to ensure that the contract has enforceable clauses, which comply with the Washington municipalities’ statutes, such as the Residential Landlord Tenant Act RCW 50.18 code. Otherwise, you might end up being liable.
Engaging a certified attorney will be judicious at this stage. In case the lease does not outline what justifies an eviction, the requirements described in the Landlord Tenant Act will suffice.
Serve the “Pay or Quit” Notice
The type of lease in place should guide you on what kind of notice to serve. In most states, the law demands that you give the tenant a three-day pay-or-quit notice. It can be in the form of a formal letter, or email which notifies the resident that he or she has defaulted in payment.
Furthermore, the notice also demands that the person pays in full the due rent within a specified period (normally three days), or the lease will be terminated, compelling the defaulter to vacate. If the tenant defaults when the lease is almost over, you could refrain from serving the notice and instead choose not to renew the contract.
Experience, however, proves that it is prudent to serve the notice even if you do not plan to evict the tenant.
Commence the eviction procedure
If even after giving proper notice the tenant takes no remedial action, like bringing the amount of due rent to current, you should start the removal proceedings. File for an unlawful detainer action in a Spokane Superior Court. Make sure the action has proper summons and complaints, as well as the show-cause motion and order.
Upon successful filing, you should serve the tenant. When serving the defendant, make sure to secure a Certificate of Service. It will act as proof that the serving was lawful.
If everything is in order, you will get the courts approval to take the write of restitution document to the Spokane Sherriff for enforcement. After which, the Sherriff will give the tenant the eviction notice.
Pay the tenant to vacate, Cash for Keys
An alternative option, if you do not wish to involve the authorities, is a “cash for keys” deal with the tenant. Under such an arrangement, you pay the occupants to vacate the property immediately. Even though such a deal sounds illogical, it can make economical sense. It frees up the asset for you to find new high-quality renters. It also eliminates the hassle of having to go to court, which can take a lot of time and money especially if the tenant contests the eviction.
If you would like help from a property manager with your Spokane rental property don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1 509-869-3721.