Evicting A Tenant In The Winter

Can You Evict A Tenant In The Winter?  Evicting a tenant in the winter should not be any different than evicting at any other time of the year. Theoretically speaking, as long as you follow the law and send the proper notice required in your area, you can evict a tenant at any time of the year.

I personally hate to evict anyone at the holidays. Doing this makes me feel terrible. At the end of the day, evicting a tenant in the winter a business decision and is not personal. I have to remind myself the tenant signed an agreement stating how much the rent was and agreed to pay it within a specific time frame.

That being said, go online and google “Evicting A Tenant In The Winter”. You will find many people saying that, in their area, they can’t schedule an eviction during November and December.  This seems to be a real problem in many areas of the country.

I live in Kentucky and the courts will allow you to file the eviction but they will not schedule any set outs during the month of December. This means that set outs get pushed out into January and even February every year.  This is annoying and also very costly.  It seems that many tenants in this area know that as well.

Goal Is For Every Property To Be Occupied

No one wants to have a vacant home at any time of year. It is always costly and unpleasant to have a home without a tenant in it. Not only are you losing money, you run the real risk of it being vandalized.

What If You Can Evict A Tenant During Winter

Let’s skip ahead and assume that evicting a tenant in the winter has not been a problem for you. You now have an empty house that is not generating income or paying for itself. Now you are faced with finding a new tenant at the single worst time of the year.  Very few people want to rent a home in November and December.

Why is that?

  • Holidays are in November and December
  • Everyone is too busy
  • It is cold
  • Everyone is short on money

Most people have holiday plans and are frantically trying to get their shopping done.  There is also the fact that it is much colder in much areas. Fewer people are willing to go out in the cold and look at homes.

The biggest factor though is that most people are short of money. They are busy buying gifts and don’t have money to spare to move. 

When you evict a tenant during this time of the year, be prepared for it to possibly sit empty until at least January and possibly February. Hopefully you have a rainy day fund for just this possibility.

Consider Working With The Existing Tenant

I agree completely that you need to stay on top of the eviction process with anyone who doesn’t pay. I have a few tenants right now who are paying their rent but are paying late.  One tenant has contacted me and said she can’t pay the full amount this month. Another tenant actually owes almost $1,000 in water bills because the account keeps reverting back into the company name. That is another whole issue with our local water company! 

If possible, make sure your lease is written so that it specifically lists how any money paid by the tenant is allotted.  You want late fees, tenant charged maintenance bills and past due utility bills to be paid before the rent. This makes any balance due rent that is due which allows you to evict the tenant.

At any rate, I want to evict these tenants eventually because their inability to pay rent on time and in the full amount. Not being able to pay utility bills is another issue as well.  


How Can You Work With The Tenant

Sometimes I make a business decision to work with these tenants as much as possible until we get through December. I talk to the tenant and find out what their situation is. Once I know that, I can make a decision about what to do in this situation.  It is not always possible to work with all of them. Communication is key. Listen to what the tenant says and then read between the lines!

Why would I do this?

  1. There are times when I will agree to lower the rent for a month or two. Some money is better than nothing. If the house is vacant, it isn’t generating any money.  The tenant is told this is a short term solution. I explain that I will proceed with the eviction filing if they cannot start paying as agreed in the lease. At this time, I also give them the option of agreeing to move out voluntarily at a future agreed upon date.
  2. A vacant home is also more likely to be vandalized. A vandalized home costs money to repair and it will sit vacant longer. It may be possible to allow the tenant to stay in the house but show it to prospective tenants.  This is only a viable option if the tenant has kept the home in good shape.  I write up a promissory note stating what they owe in back rent and allow them to make payments.  I am not an attorney so find out what the laws are in your area.


Sometimes Eviction Is The Only Solution

Obviously, if the tenant will not or cannot make any payments, you cannot work with them.  It may be better to have the home sit vacant for a month or two just to get the non-paying tenant out.  

If you are unlucky enough to live in an area where evictions are not allowed during certain months, be sure and plan ahead.  File immediately on every tenant who is not paying. This puts you ahead of anyone else who didn’t file as soon as they were allowed.  

Do Not Assume A Non Paying Tenant Will Not Move Out

Be pro-active with your non-paying tenants.  I have had good luck getting non-paying tenants to agree to voluntarily move out.  Most people know that having an eviction filing on their credit is a bad thing! Talk to them and see what they need to get out.  Get them a pod if needed. Maybe offer to get a dumpster delivered so they can clean out the house.

These options will cost you some money. However, when you are faced with getting no rent for a few months plus eviction costs, it may be cheaper. This is especially true if you don’t have to pay anyone to clean out the house!

Evicting a tenant in the winter should be the same as evicting a tenant at any other time of the year. Be sure and know the laws in your area. Always consult with an attorney who specializes in evictions.  There is nothing worse than skipping a step and having to start the process over again.