Rookie 104 Rookie Answer Do I need a lawyer to evict tenants?


This week’s question comes from Dan on the Real Estate Rookie Facebook Group. Dan asks: For those of you who have been through this Eviction process, did you go to small claims court alone or did you hire a lawyer?

While Tony (luckily) has no experience evicting tenants, Ashley does had to evict several of their staff Investment property as well as real estate that she managed as a full-time real estate manager. She describes the Multiple ways to terminate a tenantall of which depend on the situation the tenant is confronting you with.

If you’d like Ashley and Tony to answer a real estate question, you can post on the Real Estate Rookie Facebook group! Or give us a call on the Rookie Request Line (1-888-5-ROOKIE).

Ashley Kehr:
This is Real Estate Rookie, episode 104. My name is Ashley Kehr and I come to you live from BiggerPockets HQ with my co-host Tony Robinson.

Tony Robinson:
And for those of you who haven’t heard last week’s episode, we’re fulfilling one of Ashley’s bucket list points by recording the talk show style live here at BP HQ.

Ashley Kehr:
Oh, just let me take my coffee mug and take a sip.

Tony Robinson:
But yeah, we’re here in Denver for a couple of days. Ash and I hang out here with the crew. Every few months we try to get out and just spend some time. We’re literally as far apart, I think, as can be on a map. So it’s nice to be able to meet in person from time to time.

Ashley Kehr:
Yes. And we’re working on some really exciting things, maybe more in-person events, all kinds of different content, to really give you that much real estate investing knowledge and the best ways to get it across to you. And we love everyone here who works in the headquarters. You are great and we have a great time every time we come.

Tony Robinson:
We’re not here today to talk to you guys about how much we love BiggerPockets. We’re here to talk to you about real estate investing. Today we have a question from the Facebook group. Today’s question comes from Dan Rodriguez. And Dan’s question is, “For those of you who have gone through the eviction process, did you go through small claims court on your own or did you hire a lawyer? The district court has informed me about the next necessary steps. I’m just wondering if I need to spend the extra money even though I’m already at a loss with these problem tenants. ”Dan also says that this tenant already has an arrest warrant against him, so he thinks it might spur the tenant on to it to do yourself. So I’ve actually never had to identify anyone. Ashley, I think you had some nice experiences with it so why not tell us about your experience and how you fared.

Ashley Kehr:
Okay, first of all I want to say that when I was working as a property manager, I had no experience at all. I had no one to guide me. I learned everything on my own. And so it came about that I had two evictions and the investor I worked for said, “Oh, you can do that yourself. Just find out. You can do it. We don’t need a lawyer. “So it’s a very small town and the magistrate made me cry for screwing it up like that. I brought in the paperwork and the tenant is there and says,” This date is wrong should be served at this time. “and blah, blah, blah and I’m trying to hold back the tears. I was so upset and she said,” Case dismissed. That goes anywhere. “Well, then the next case was right with the next tenant and before the tenant walked in, she said, “I’ll just tell her case that it was turned down. I’m not going to go through all of the things you did wrong.”

Tony Robinson:
Wait a minute, can we take a quick break? So these are the stories you don’t always get to hear as a rookie. This is good to share because I think people see you and they see Ashley as very successful, you have been killing in the game for a long time but they don’t see the steps and the fights that you had to go through getting there right?

Ashley Kehr:
Yeah, I cry now just thinking about it. So I did some research. I’ve talked to a couple of lawyers and found that becoming a lawyer is the best way to go, at least in New York for me. And so the next eviction I had to do actually went through working for apartment buildings. It was very common for us to issue a reminder that if they didn’t pay we would evacuate, and often this threat scares people into paying. And when they actually get a court date, they often pay before the court date is actually due. And then when they got a court date they usually paid in the core or they just went and got the money they owed us back. So I had to do two evictions because of my personal belongings. And the first was the first property I ever bought that we talked about a couple of episodes ago.

Ashley Kehr:
This property was actually an employee of my then partner on this property. And we started the eviction process and we got a lawyer and we went to court and they didn’t have the money to pay them so a verdict was passed on them. The judgment is therefore valid for 10 years. So if they ever try to sell something they own, the proceeds of it would have to go to us to cover the judgment if there is money out of it. We didn’t see anything and it was maybe five years ago, but from then on they had ravaged the house and moved out alone. We didn’t really have to call the sheriffs over and give them the evacuation papers after the court hearing. They moved out, left a lot of rubbish. But about a week later I saw her in the Verizon store buying a brand new iPhone and the guy just waved at me, “Oh, hey, how are you?” I was so incredulous. I’m sure my jaw caught and [inaudible 00:05:00] like, “You owe me all this money and here you buy an iPhone?”

Tony Robinson:
Priorities. Priorities. But I think you’re making a good point, Ashley is that the first time you tried doing it on your own, which is totally fine because some people can and they can swing and it works for them. but obviously it didn’t go the way you wanted it to the first time.

Ashley Kehr:
Yes. And I didn’t save any money, or the investor I worked for didn’t save by letting me do that. It would have been faster and probably cheaper because people would have been evicted and we wouldn’t have to wait for the lawyer until the next court date. That was a big lesson for me at times, even if it now looks like more money upfront as it actually pays off in the long run than trying to figure it out for yourself.

Tony Robinson:
When asked by Dan, he said, “I’m already at a loss with this tenant.” So he’s just thinking of that one tenant, but my question is, Dan, if you are planning to scale your portfolio and it might just be a house, you might want 50, maybe 100. Does it make sense to invest from that perspective? a bit of money to hire a lawyer to show you the actual process so maybe next time you don’t have to because you have been trained and coached and know the process. However, if your goal is to scale, you may not be thinking at the micro level of that one tenant, just at the macro level of your entire portfolio.

Ashley Kehr:
And for the attorney I’m hiring now, it’s just as easy to email them a copy of the lease, get a detailed report of their arrears bills, and then they’ll take care of the rest. I have to Do nothing until the court hearing. And luckily I just had one other eviction to do which was where the actual sheriffs had to come, but I had a lawyer to take care of everything and it was pretty easy. So I’d say it’s definitely worth hiring an eviction attorney to get it right the first time. And then Dan had mentioned small dishes too. So if you’re not actually evicting small claims courts and just prosecuting them for the verdict or the money, this is a much easier process. You can just go to the clerk and there is a form and you fill it out and then it goes to the judge and then a court date is set. But that’s a lot easier than actually having to do the clearance papers.

Tony Robinson:
I have it. Dan, I hope you get some benefit from this, brother. Sounds like Ashley hopefully gave you the do’s and don’ts so you would know which way to go.

Ashley Kehr:
Did I scared you? [crosstalk 00:07:22]. We don’t want to see you cry in court, Dan.

Tony Robinson:
So, I hope you get something out of it, brother.

Ashley Kehr:
And only one more thing, if you really don’t want to evacuate, don’t want to hire a lawyer, you can pay cash for keys. I’ve seen this quite a lot, especially since COVID when there aren’t evictions that you can do are people offering cash to the renter. If you move out that day we will come here and give you $ 500 and in return you all move out and give us the keys and then you just cancel the lease with each other as well. So it seems to be becoming more and more common for investors to take advantage of this because it may be cheaper than waiting until you can evict or until you get a court date or pay a lawyer. So there is always something to check.

Tony Robinson:
Love it. I have nothing more to add, Dan. That was great.

Ashley Kehr:
So if Tony gets a squatter in one of the short term rentals, he’ll know what to do. Well thanks for listening. I’m Ashley @wealthfromrentals and he’s Tony @TonyJRobinson, and we can’t wait to see you guys at BP Con in New Orleans this year. So secure your ticket and see you there in October. Have a great week



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