In a homeowner association (HOA) or condominium association (COA), evictions are relatively rare. This is because HOA/COAs are made up of property owners, rather than renters. However, there are some circumstances where a resident in the association needs to be evicted. As the HOA/COA manager, you’ll be asked to assist your clients with the eviction process whenever it becomes necessary.
What’s the best way to handle evictions? Sometimes, it depends on the situation surrounding the eviction. Let’s say your client’s HOA/COA allows property owners to rent out private rooms and an owner needs to evict their tenant for not paying. In this case, it’s a dispute between the property owner and the tenant. The association doesn’t need to be directly involved unless the tenant is violating HOA/COA rules. In other scenarios, the HOA/COA may evict a homeowner or condominium owner due to extreme rule violations or illegal activity. They may also evict residents who are occupying a foreclosed property.
Obviously, every association will have its own standards and procedures for evictions. Different cities also have different eviction laws. Eviction can be a long, complicated process. It’s not uncommon for attorneys to get involved, too, which gets expensive for everyone involved. Whenever possible, encourage your clients to take other disciplinary action before resorting to eviction.
However, if you do need to help your HOA/COA clients evict someone, here’s how to handle it.
Review Bylaws and Declaration of Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions
Begin by reviewing the association’s governing documents. Go over the bylaws, as well as the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs). There are two reasons to do this. First, you’ll want to confirm that the HOA/COA does indeed have the authority to evict a resident. The laws about whether a homeowner or condo association can evict an owner vary from state to state and association to association. Before you help your client start the eviction process, make sure local law and the association bylaws allow you to do so.
Second, reviewing the bylaws and the Declaration of CC&Rs will allow you to make a complete inventory of the resident’s violations. This will be necessary to use as evidence in court proceedings.
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Follow the Rules for Eviction
Next, learn the rules for eviction in your client’s area. Then, follow these rules to the letter. We can’t stress this enough. When an association is evicting someone, it can be a very messy legal battle–don’t give the resident any ammunition by breaking the rules.
If you don’t follow the proper eviction procedures, they may also have grounds to counter-sue in Small Claims Court. For example, it’s illegal in most states for landlords to cut off utilities, change the locks, remove doors or windows, take the resident’s belongings, or harass anyone they’re trying to evict. If you or your client has any confusion about local eviction laws, consult an attorney.
Issue an Eviction Notice
When your HOA/COA client is ready to begin the eviction, you will help them by issuing an eviction notice. Depending on local law, this can be issued 3, 30, 60, or 90 days in advance. An eviction notice informs the resident of the date of the eviction, giving them a deadline to either rectify the situation (i.e. pay debts owed) or vacate the premises. The eviction notice must be posted in clear display on the resident’s door.
Issue an Unlawful Detainer
If the resident takes no action following the eviction notice, the next step is to issue a document called an Unlawful Detainer. This is a special court proceeding wherein the association can sue the resident to have them evicted.
From the time the Unlawful Detainer is issued, the resident has 5 days to submit a written reply to the court. A trial date will be set and the resident will have the opportunity to defend themselves in court. If the resident doesn’t answer the Unlawful Detainer within 5 days, the court will automatically declare the case in favor of the association.
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Get Local Law Enforcement to Evict
In this next step in the eviction process, you’ll help your client coordinate with local law enforcement. In most states, only the Sheriff can physically evict someone. The Sheriff or a representative from their department will post a notice to vacate on the resident’s door. Usually, this gives them 5 days to leave the premises. If the resident hasn’t left within 5 days, the Sheriff will return and physically remove them.
Handle the Former Resident’s Belongings
Even when a resident leaves before being forcibly removed from the property, they usually leave stuff behind. It will be part of your job to help your client deal with these belongings.
Legally, anything left behind now belongs to the association until the former resident begins paying storage fees. If the resident doesn’t claim their belongings or pay for storage, the association can sell everything at auction or give items away.
Do a Property Inspection
After the resident is gone, do a walk-through of the property and inspect it for damage. Make detailed notes and take photos. Then, coordinate with the association’s maintenance staff to perform any needed repairs. If the home or condo is in really bad condition, talk to your client about hiring a general contractor to do major renovations. You may also wish to hire a cleaning crew on the association’s behalf once repairs and construction are complete.
Change the Locks
Finally, you’ll help your HOA/COA client by changing all the locks on the property. Call a locksmith from the association’s vendor directory or hire one on your own. Ask them to arrive as soon as possible, replace the old locks with new ones, and create copies for you and your client.
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Hopefully, you won’t need to deal with evictions very often as an HOA/COA manager. But if you do, the above information will help you assist your clients in this difficult process.
Whether you’re assisting with an eviction or simply managing the association’s daily operations, the right association management software can make a huge impact on your business. Try CINC Systems today and see how we can optimize your HOA/COA management work-flow. For a free demo call (855) 943-8246.