Tragedy at College Station reminds landlords that evictions are a hostile process

by Mirania 28, November 2012 17:12

Recently , we all heard about the tragic shooting incident at College Station. I came across an article about it on Chron.com.

The tragedy was a shootout incident at College Station that killed three people including a constable leaving a Houston woman seriously injured amongst the wounded. This unfortunate incident seems to have happened because of an eviction notice. This noxious incident has rocked College Station and its neighboring areas including the extended Aggie network.

Brazos County Constable Brian Bachman brought an eviction notice for Alton Caffall, and as a result of being served the notice a confrontation took place between both of them. The heated argument between the two sparked a gunfire exchange killing and injuring people. Both of them were later pronounced dead at a hospital. Bachmann who was killed in the shootout was a law enforcement officer for about two decades. He took the office as a constable last year in January 2011. According to sources, deceased tenant and shooter, Caffall had relocated to College Station early last year.  As a landlord, this incident will hopefully remind landlords to protect themselves and their property by following these steps.

Landlords should consider that this tragedy would have been difficult to predict, but it does not mean a landlord should not make to find the best tenant possible. 

Things to consider:

Screen your tenant:  Before renting out a property, you should conduct a thorough tenant screening. Besides checking the credit history of the tenant, it is equally essential to review for criminal history or history with previous landlords. There are not always signs that these kinds of tragedies will happen, but any clues that a tenant may not be a positive prospect should be considered before making a decision to rent to them.

Keep correspondence professional and clear: Finally, please remember that you should conduct your activity as a landlord in a fair and consistent manner with the lease. Keep correspondence polite, concise, and clear. Try to avoid increasing the hostility by increasing the emotional nature of the situation.

Document Incidences and Consult Legal Help: As soon as you get enough evidence about the violent activities or criminal activities of a tenant, you may be required to send an eviction notice or an official warming  to state no tolerance of violence or illegal activities. However, if it comes to an eviction for these reasons, then this process should be conducted with the help of an attorney.  The landlord tenant law has processes and procedures that must be followed for a legal eviction, and if you fail to follow those rules then you as the landlord could also be facing fines and punitive damages for an illegal eviction.  Landlords have to cognizant of fair housing rules, Americans with Disabilities rules, landlord and tenant law, etc; so navigating those waters with legal counsel maybe appropriate.

Tragedies like what happened at Texas A&M are a rare occurrence, but it does provide an important reminder that being a landlord can have momements where you will face a confrontational moment (late rent, tenant  damaged the home, etc). It is important for landlords in Houston, Dallas, or anywhere to conduct themselves in a professional manner consistent with the law.

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Landlord & Tenant Disputes in Dallas and Tampa

by Mirania 8, November 2012 15:25

Several landlord and tenant disputes make news every week with incidents covering a broad variety of strong conflicts taking place between landlords and renters. We will discuss some of the most notable incidents of landlord-tenant disputes.

1)  In February 2012, Dallas police had arrested a landlord who had shot a tenant at a condominium in the 5200 block of Bent Tree Forest Drive off the Dallas North Tollway in far north Dallas. According to Dallas police, the landlord Gabriel Abraham, was trying to evict Daniel Sipes, his tenant when there was some sort of argument. Finally, Abraham shot his tenant multiple times leaving the victim in a critical condition. Abraham was arrested by police on the spot. (Click here for the story)

2)   Another incident took place in Florida in September this year when a Tampa resident was stabbed several times following a tussle with his landlord. The landlord was taken into custody by police and the investigation is underway. (Click here for the story)

How to avoid Landlord and Tenant Disputes?

Such incidents of landlord and tenant dispute generally arise due to disagreement over a rent increase, return of security deposit and responsibility for repairs. To avoid such disputes both landlords and tenants should know their rights and responsibilities under federal, state, and local law. Also, the landlord and tenant should ensure that the terms are precisely mentioned in the rental agreement. It is also important to keep copies of each and every correspondence that takes place between the landlord and tenant and make notes of conversations about problems, if any.

A responsible landlord and a good tenant should always follow these tips in order to avoid conflicts with each other and to co-exist better with each other. If a landlord is having a problem with a tenant for nonpayment of rent, then they should refrain from engaging in personal attacks and focus on following the eviction procedures as outlined by the letter of the law in their state and local area.

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Tips to Dealing with Difficult Tenants

by jay.raman@ashokalion.com 25, July 2012 22:56

'A tenant slashes his landlord across the stomach when the latter got into an argument with his tenant while collecting the rent’.

You may have come across such threatening stories about violent situations occuring between tenants and their landlord. Not all tenants behave this way, but obviously, landlords sometimes face aggressive situations or difficult situation with their residents. 

As Investment Property Managers, we often come across landlords in Houston and Dallas facing the problem of evicting difficult tenants. Our eviction team has handled several eviction hearings and has assisted several distressed owners in Houston and Dallas to carry out the eviction process smoothly. The following tips would help you to deal with or avoid hostile tenants:

It goes without saying that proper background checks (criminal, eviction, and credit) and reference checks are highly essential before renting out your property to a new tenant. You should be assured that you are leasing your unit to a responsible and qualified person who will not be a threat to you or his neighbors. It is imperative to conduct proper screening of your prospective tenants before leasing your property to prevent all future calamities.  Often times,  prospective landlords will feel our criteria as their property management company are too difficult and strict, but our goal is to reduce risk that a tenant who may not be a quality individual obtains the keys.  Many owners do not realize that a eviction is a prolonged process that can cause a lot of heart ache and anger, and therefore preventitive measures in screening are preferable to having to deal with evicting a tenant.

Once a tenant has moved in, the steps to follow include:

Inform the tenant:
The first step is to inform your tenant that he/ she is violating the terms and conditions mentioned in the lease. Ideally, they should be informed over the phone and this conversation should be followed by a letter along with the copy of the lease. Don’t forget to highlight the violation in the rental agreement.

Settlement with a tenant: Foreclosures through out America have forced many banks work to remove occupants of a property through settlement (Cash for Keys) programs. This is done to avoid the scenario escalating with prolonged legal issues and reducing property damage. If you believe that the tenant will move out with minimal issue, then you may want to negotiate a relet fee or way to obtain your property with minimal.

Notice For Eviction Process:
If a phone call does not work as a reminder, then you may have to initiate the eviction procedures. For example, if your tenant has not bothered about paying the rent, then provide them a notice to vacate giving him/her appropriate notice to pay the rent or vacate the house (these terms are governed by your lease and state law) by certified mail.

Let the law handle the eviction:  If you feel unsafe during the proceeding, then let the legal process play out and stay away from your property during the eviction process.  Often times, you can file a  “Writ of Possession” after the eviction period,  if you are unsure that the tenant has vacated the premises, and a Sherriff can accompany you to the property to gain access. Do not try to circumvent the process by illegally locking the tenant out, cutting of utilities,etc, as it is both illegal and will only escalate the hostility.

Know your legal obligations: The best way to deal with violent tenants is to know the law of the land and to be aware of the terms mentioned in the lease. While making a rental agreement ensure that it specifies the time when the tenant should pay the rent, additional late fees and activities that are not allowed in the unit.  You should know if working with a tenant for a minimal payment may negate the eviction proceeding.

The following video cites a horrifying incident about a violent tenant who bit off one of the fingers of his landlord after an argument.  Being a landlord does not always have to end in violence or negative situations, but it is something to understand that it can be difficult.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lI-WiotRN5o