What is one of the scariest nightmares a landlord could have? That’s right, their tenant going to jail. Scary because, most landlords in Burbank don’t know how to react and do in such a situation. Most of the time, they end up acting rashly and reacting in ways that lead to further problems. That is precisely why we’re going to let you know how to deal with such a situation. Relax, you’re in good hands!
Step 1: Confirm the news
The first thing to do when you hear news about your tenant going to jail is to, find a quiet and comfortable place to sit. Seriously, it’s important. The next thing you need to do is put through a few calls, and confirm the news. Do not trust the word of anyone who is not a legal authority. If your tenant has gone to prison, you can look them up in the public records through your local corrections department. If you can’t find them, call their emergency contacts (assuming they did not pick up the phone). Remember not to mention anything about incarceration; you don’t want to end up being sued for defamation, if they were not in jail in the first place! So be careful.
Step 2: Confirm the rent status
Is the monthly rent going to stop? Obviously, if the tenant is in jail, there is no way for them to pay rent. However, that does not necessarily mean you start thinking about eviction. Find out if the tenant has any other means to pay you. Perhaps a close relative? Or a partner who is living in the house? Usually, the significant other is not part of the lease but they usually end up taking on the responsibilities of the tenant. You can add them to the contract after confirming the news. However, it is best to run a background check on them before you do so.
Step 3: Confirm reason for tenant going to jail
Usually, this is not that important because you are going to follow the rest of the steps anyway. However, if the reason for imprisonment is domestic violence, it’s best to contact an attorney before proceeding to step four or contact a real estate management company. Typically, domestic violence leaves behind the significant other of the tenant. Under the Violence Against Women Act, you cannot evict a victim of domestic violence purely because violence took place. It can become quite tricky to deal with such a legal situation, so it is best to contact a professional.
Step 4: Consider eviction
If there is no way for the payment to continue, you should consider evicting the tenant. It is best to follow the standard procedure for eviction – notify your tenant, give them a written notice, give time for action, and then formally apply through court for eviction. An eviction can be costly and time-consuming which is why people tend to look for other ways. If you are unclear about the process, the smartest thing to do is to get an attorney. They will provide you with the right advice and help you successfully reclaim your property.
Step 5: Consider the alternative
If you do not want to evict the tenant formally, there is another way out. In this scenario, you could get the tenant removed based on the abandonment clause. Before you do anything though, check the California laws for tenant abandonment. California has one of the strictest laws regarding this so be careful what you do next.
Usually, it is defined as your tenant moving out and does not inform the landlord. However, it can be applied to this case as well. Abandonment also includes the rent not being paid along with the tenant being away from the premises for an extended period. On these grounds, you have the right to consider the unit abandoned. After a specified waiting period, you are allowed to repossess the property. By law, you are required to hold onto your tenant’s property for 30 days. After that, you can do whatever you want. It is wise to contact any emergency contacts of the tenant and have them take the property before you decide to dispose it off.
Precaution Saves Pain
Having a tenant in jail does not have to be a nightmarish situation for you. As a landlord, if you take the appropriate precautions, you will be able to deal with such a predicament in a calm and logical manner. For example add incarceration as grounds for eviction in your lease agreement before you take on a tenant. All in all, what we want to say is take precaution now to avoid pain later!