by Greg O’Berry
Evictions are as old as multifamily housing. Unfortunately, so is much of the technology that supports eviction practices.
Apartment management companies continue to rely on scanners, copiers or even fax machines to deliver vital and time-sensitive documents to legal counsel, often delaying or diminishing the integrity of their filings. Incomplete or blurred copies and scans, and distorted fax transmissions – not to mention illegible hand-written notices or forms – can create discrepancies or even result in disqualified filings that force the entire process to restart.
It is time for the industry to deploy modern systems and eviction solutions that save time and effort, and that limit the potential for errors and inconsistencies, and aid in debt recovery.
Do not task teams with tracking delinquency
Antiquated technology that requires manual or unprompted task completion invites procrastination and opens the door to critical assignments slipping through the cracks. Onsite teams are understandably focused on leasing and operational responsibilities, and evictions can fall below other urgent priorities.
Also, because leasing team members are typically nurturers by nature, they aren’t eager to engage in potentially contentious or uncomfortable eviction conversations. If they can postpone or avoid those interactions with residents, they likely will.
It should not be up to onsite teams to track or pursue delinquent payments. Property teams need a system that sends out consistent, compliant and timely payment reminders to residents, without the involvement of onsite associates.
Neither should leasing associates be tasked with helping residents struggling to make rent payments on time explore alternative funding sources. Property management companies enable their teams to focus on leasing and customer service when they enlist the support of services designed to work directly with residents to resolve debt prior to collections.
Avoiding upfront errors
Poor legal process execution at the onset of delinquency – whether it is failure to provide proof of Notice to Quit (NTQ), or failure to properly serve, document and archive the notice – provides residents with an easy avenue to challenge their eviction. A cursory Google search on ways to defend against evictions reveals low-hanging fruit for renters to exploit, and most of the top search results involve the initial notice.
Without the right tools to manage the process, management companies leave themselves exposed.
Most property teams either hand-deliver the NTQ or post it on the resident’s door. While some delayed postings are intentional, albeit ill-advised business decisions, more often onsite associates are busy, put it off or forget. A system that issues reminders to the property team to post the NTQ according to the company’s designated timeline and helps to initiate the process is invaluable in ensuring legally sound and timely eviction notifications.
Limiting bad debt
The most effective way to limit bad debt and maximize revenue is to replace non-paying residents with reliable renters as quickly as possible. While initiating the eviction process in a timely fashion is crucial, property managers cannot afford to suffer unnecessary delays or setbacks in court, either.
Companies typically only need to provide their legal counsel with a copy of the NTQ and a copy of the lease in order to file for eviction. But once the issue reaches the courts, eviction lawyers are required to provide a rent ledger, which is routinely an issue.
All too frequently, ledgers either are not up to date, complete or readily accessible. Or the ledgers sent to legal counsel are not usable due to scanning or fax transmission issues. Unfortunately, resident payment claims cannot be effectively refuted without viable ledgers and historically complete ledger documentation. Rent ledgers that do not go back far enough or that are not current also create problems.
Fortunately, using modern eviction management systems, real-time digital rent ledgers can be made accessible to legal counsel at any time, including while they are in court. Ledgers can even be displayed side-by-side with the three-day NTQ. The on-demand data and documentation enable lawyers to answer questions on the spot and demonstrate a level of preparedness that plays favorably in court.
Property managers and their legal representatives simply require the agility and consistency afforded by modern eviction solutions. By standardizing and streamlining eviction practices through a comprehensive eviction management platform, multifamily properties can effectively limit revenue loss by expediting the eviction process. And that certainly sounds better than the squelch of a fax machine.