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HMW #142: 3 Secrets to a Successful Eviction

alan corey full time investor landlord lease in place long-term rentals negotiation property management tenants unethical Feb 21, 2024

Read Time: 8.5 minutes

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While evictions are for the most part rare, I (Alan) recently had the pleasure of spending all day in Atlanta's Municipal Court for Landlord and Tenant Disputes. The majority of these disputes were evictions and I learned what it takes for a landlord to come out ahead. Yes, I was in having an eviction case heard myself, which is something all landlords will go through eventually. And I learned a ton about landlord-tenant law sitting through about a dozen other cases as well.

Now, what constitutes a successful eviction? From the landlord side, it's a quick and easy resolution of getting the tenant out of your property or getting a tenant caught up on overdue payments quickly. State laws vary, but I learned 3 secrets that would help most landlords succeed in court.

I can't wait to share them! And yes, I'll tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.




Wow, you are as excited as the tenants receiving consequences for the actions. This may not be riveting, but it's important to know. Trust me.


Secret 1: Judges love paperwork

Most judges are reasonable people. They hear lies all day from both sides and thus, have the best BS detector on the planet. The ultimate best way to get on a judge's good side is to have the following in order:

  • All signed leases, agreements, and amendments
  • All written communication with tenant on hand (printed from email or texts)
  • Paperwork showing payment dates and amount (ideally from a property management software)

Whichever side had the most paperwork seemed to get favorable treatment from the judge as there was no room for interpretation. You provide facts and details to the case and the other side has stories.  

For a landlord, make your life easy for any potential future evictions by having all payments, all repair requests, and all communication go through your property management software portal. It's very easy to get print outs at any time.

Additionally, put in your lease that all agreements and information must be written and in the portal, so you do have proof that undocumented agreements are not accepted per lease terms. 

So now ask yourself, are you doing these basics now in order protect yourself in the future?



Well, ok, now you have something to do this afternoon. Better late than never.


Secret 2: Don't accept partial payment

Georgia law states if you accept any partial rent you are effectively agreeing to a payment plan and you can't evict anyone on a payment plan that is making payments you are accepting. This seems to be the standard, but Google your state's laws on this as well (and maybe ask your lawyer) so you know where you stand.

Instead, accept late payments in full with a late fee. This should also be spelled out in your lease. A tenant that pays $1,000 a month but all of sudden starts paying you $250 a week has now created a precedent that you take weekly payments.

Typically, you can't formally start evicting someone until 30 days after that last payment, and that includes any partial payment.

I know it's hard to say no to any amount from a tenant not paying, but it protects you in court to push back in writing and say they must pay all or nothing, and all includes the late fee.

Now as a landord yourself, have you been guilty of doing this?




I'm not trying to beat you up, but it's better you understand this now than in front of a judge. I really am on your side.


Secret 3: Mediation is the real winner

Before any judge hears a case he or she makes an offer for both sides to meet with a court-approved mediator to work things out. This is a last minute negotiation between tenant and landlord that can work wonders for both parties.

A judge can only follow the law, meaning put an eviction on a tenants record, kick them out in 7 days (Georgia's law), and potentially garnishing future wages when siding with the landlord. They can't kick them out quicker or later, the judge has to follow the law.  

But both sides do have to follow a signed mediation agreement as if it were the law, meaning you can now agree to:

  • A payment plan that if not followed, does trigger immediate eviction
  • A move out date earlier than 7 days but not a black mark on the tenant's rental history
  • A waiving of past due charges and security deposit kept if tenant moves out quicker than a week
  • Agreeing to not take each other to court in the future if mediation is upheld by both sides

Anything goes in mediation, and a lawyer provided by the court writes up the agreement that must be adhered to. You don't have to agree to anything if you prefer the law on your side, but you do risk not having the judge be your advocate without a solid case and paperwork to back you up.

As for my case, we mediated for a 7 day eviction, waiving 6 months of past due charges, and no eviction on credit history. This worked well for us as we just wanted the tenant out. He was destructive as well as non-paying. It happens to even the best of landlords, but now I'm better prepared for next time. And I want you to be too. 



Ok! Ok, you don't have to rub it in. In this case, the tenant knew the laws better than I did and used it to his advantage. This was his third eviction and we inherited him as a tenant from the previous owner. Our tenant screening would never let him in to begin with, but this was the hand we were dealt.

Now, ask yourself, are you ready to be a landlord that does business the right way?



Ok, good! If this sounds like too much, know that I've only done one eviction in 24 years of real estate investing. I always go through good tenant screening, and because the property managers I hire have evictions as their responsibility if it's ever needed. Regardless if you do it or others, understanding how the system works benefits all parties involved.

And may you never have an eviction, but if you do, have a successful one!



  • Document, document, document
  • Accept only full payments
  • Mediate if you can
  • Outsource management if it's all too much

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