As a commercial real estate owner, your job is complicated and time consuming. It becomes even more so if you have a tenant that has not paid their rent for a couple months. Does that mean you can evict a them? Yes, but often tenants aren’t evicted immediately for being behind on rent.
Here are some steps to follow before you evict your tenant:
- If your tenant is a month behind on rent, or more, contact them and arrange a meeting to set up a payment plan. Often, real estate owners and tenants can come to an agreement with a phone or in-person discussion on how to pay past-due rent.
- Hire an experienced business law attorney. If the business that owes you rent is a corporation or partnership or an individual owner guaranteed rent payment, you’ll need legal advice on how to proceed with an eviction.
- Find out if the tenant has filed bankruptcy. If the tenant files bankruptcy before the eviction process, landlords can’t begin the eviction process immediately. Yet, with repeated nonpayment for rent, landlords may be able to evict a tenant based on a judge’s ruling if the lease effects the business’ value (most likely not).
- Give an eviction notice three business days ahead of set eviction date. You can post this notice on the business’ front door, send it by registered mail or have your tenant served with the eviction notice.
- File an unlawful detainer complaint with the appropriate county court once the three business days pass. In it, you’ll have to provide copies of your lease agreement with the tenant, a copy of the three-day eviction notice and proof that the tenant received the three-day notice.
- Give the tenant five days to vacate the property after an eviction notice has been delivered. At this point, tenants can contest the conviction, but commercial tenants do not have as many rights as residential tenants because the law treats them more as equals with commercial property owners.
- Change the locks for the rental space and allow the tenant access to remove remaining possessions.
Also, you can evict a tenant for not following the other aspects of the lease agreement—for example, if the tenant alters the property or uses it in an unlawful manner. Again, an experienced business law attorney can help you decide to pursue an eviction or help you if your tenant legally contests to the eviction.