Normally, rental property owners could evict their tenants for nonpayment of rent, lease violations, criminal activity, or at the end of a lease term when the owner decided to move back into the property or sell it. These were fairly routine eviction proceedings, and the court process was easy to navigate, especially with the help of an attorney or a professional Albuquerque property manager.
Things have changed in the last five months, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions that the courts have put in place during this state of emergency.
It’s more important than ever to work with a professional property management company, especially if you’re a landlord who wants to evict a tenant. Earlier in the year, the Albuquerque rental market had low inventory and we could consistently increase rental rates – even by $150 or $200 per month. Now, a lot of property owners are struggling to collect any rent at all.
Eviction Bans for Tenants in Public Housing
If you’re renting out a property to a tenant who receives housing vouchers or participates in a program like Section 8, you cannot evict those tenants. This was part of the federal stimulus bill signed into law in March. You should still be receiving your rental payments that come in directly from the housing authority, but if you had intended to evict your tenants who receive federal subsidies for housing, you cannot even start the process until the end of July.
Eviction Bans for Tenants Who Are Impacted by COVID-19
The New Mexico Supreme Court has also paused evictions for some residents who do not have the means to pay rent. Tenants who have been financially impacted by the coronavirus are protected against eviction in Albuquerque and throughout New Mexico.
As a landlord, you can still file for eviction against tenants who have not paid rent. However, after you file for eviction the tenants will have the opportunity to provide documentation that they are unemployed or have been laid off due to the pandemic. That will cease the eviction proceedings.
Tenants who cannot prove that they’ve been financially impacted by the virus are not protected against eviction and you can still file to get possession of your property back. However, a lot of judges are dismissing evictions or sending the cases to mediation so that some kind of arrangement can be worked out between tenants and landlords. Even evictions that have nothing to do with non-payment of rent are being delayed, dismissed, or re-directed. If you’re an owner who wants to evict a tenant who is renting month-to-month because you want to sell your property, your judge may not allow it just yet.
Working With Tenants When You Want Your Property Back
As you can see, it’s getting more difficult to actually evict a tenant and get possession of your property. We don’t know how long this will be the norm in the New Mexico court system, and as professional Albuquerque property managers, we’re telling our owners that it’s probably best to work something out with your tenants outside of the court system.
If you have a tenant who isn’t paying rent, communicate with your resident and find out what can be done. Ask if they can pay part of the rent or if they’d be willing to put together a payment plan to catch up. You might consider forgiving the overdue rent that hasn’t been paid if your tenants are slowly getting back on their feet and working again. If they can pay rent in full next month, you might want to forget the month or two that hasn’t been paid.
When you want your tenant out and your property back, try to encourage your tenants to surrender the property. You can let them out of the lease agreement without any penalties or you can return the security deposit in full if they promise to leave by the end of the month with the property in good condition.
This is how we’re handling evictions in the current climate at Bruni-Karr. We’re taking everything on a case by case basis and making decisions that are best for you and your property. Keeping a non-paying tenant in your property is not good for you or your investment.
If you find yourself in an uncertain eviction situation or you need any help with Albuquerque property management, please contact us at Bruni-Karr Agency We’d be happy to talk through your options and help you make the best decision.