Finding Deals Through Rental Eviction Court Files
Why Eviction Listings?
The idea behind targeting eviction listings is to contact a landlord who is having to evict their tenant for not paying their rent. This is a perfect time to catch the landlord when they are frustrated with the property and most likely to consider selling. This is also the time when the landlord does not have any cash flow coming in from the property and may be under pressure financially.
You might think… “Why would I want to buy a property with troubled tenants?” However, you won’t be buying the property until the troubled tenant has already been evicted. You’ll then be able to do any necessary repairs to the property and get it re-rented out at a higher rent amount and to a tenant who you approve of. Besides, many properties you’ll be buying as part of your rental portfolio will be vacant to begin with anyway.
To start researching eviction listings, you can look in the legal newspapers we discussed before. In most counties, eviction cases are filed as “civil suits”. The only problem is that civil suit cases encompass other types of cases like small claims lawsuits or disputes, and many legal newspapers do not specify the specific type of case listed.
Cases To Target
Begin by identifying which cases have been filed by a private party against another private party. You can then take the list of these cases to the court house to figure out which cases are actually evictions.
Eviction Filings To Avoid
You’ll want to avoid cases in which the filing party is a property management company or apartment complex. You are only looking for the private landlords evicting a tenant on one of their small properties.
Checking The Court House
After you have some case numbers out of the legal newspaper, you’ll then want to look those cases up at the court house. You could even skip looking in the legal newspaper first and start off at the court house if you wanted.
Where Are The Eviction Case Files?
Once at the court house, you’ll want to go to where all the civil case files are at. If you already have some case numbers from the legal newspaper, you can ask to see those files. However, if you don’t, there should be some type of index where you can look up some cases.
The index of civil cases may be in a large book that gets updated every day or it could be on a computer. In either case, most counties list the case files according to the plaintiff’s name and the defendant’s name. You could then begin looking for cases where the plaintiff and defendant are both private parties.
Pulling Up The Most Recent Cases
Something else you’ll want to look for is whether or not the court house lists cases according to the date the cases were filed. This would allow you to specifically pull up the most recent cases. If you can’t pull the files up in an index according to the date, you could look at the shelf or filing cabinet for where the newest files are being placed.
Identify The Case Type
The court house should have some type of indicator as to the type of civil case each file is. This allows everyone to identify which cases are evictions and which cases are other types of small claims lawsuits. Be sure to ask one of the court house workers how to identify which cases are evictions.
Finding The Property Address
When you get an eviction file in front of you, start by looking for the property’s address to see if it is located in an area which you are looking to buy. You should be able to find it on a copy of the lease or a “3 Day Notice” letter that was submitted as part of the eviction filing.
Getting The Landlord’s Contact Information
Next, look for the landlord’s name and address. This too can be found on a lease, “3 day notice” letter, or some of the other documents within the file. Most files will only contain a name and address of the landlord but you can sometimes get lucky and get a phone number. If not, you can work on finding the landlord the same way you would if you were tracking down a vacant property.
Civil Process Servers
Another way to get in contact with landlords who are evicting tenants is to contact some “civil process servers”. The notice of eviction must be served personally to the tenant and this is usually done by a civil process server. Sometimes, these servers are hired directly by a landlord which puts the process server in a perfect position for knowing who the landlords are and how to contact them.
In the file at the court house, you may be able to locate the name of the civil process server who delivered the eviction notice to the tenant. You could then contact the process server and ask if they can put you in contact with that particular landlord or other landlords.
You can even find a list of civil process servers in the phone book. Call these companies or send them a letter with your business card stating you buy properties from tired landlords having tenant problems.
To make contact with the landlord, you can do several things to try and locate them online such as searching for their name on LinkedIn and Facebook along with Googling their name or a company name you might have found associated with the property. If you can locate a phone number o email address this way, that would be great. You can also send them a letter by regular mail similar to the following…
Dear [Landlord’s Name],
I am interested in purchasing rental properties, particularly the one you own at [Property’s Address]. In an effort to contact landlords in the area, I looked in the public records and found that you are a landlord in the process of evicting a tenant there.
I understand how difficult it can be to manage unruly tenants. Nevertheless, I’m still interested in purchasing this property or any others you may currently have.
Please contact me if you are interested in selling any of your properties. If you are interested in buying more properties, I also sometimes have rental properties for sale.
You can reach me anytime at [Phone Number]. I look forward to hearing from you. In fact, maybe we could even have lunch together, my treat.
P.S. If you don’t feel you need my services at this time, please put this letter in a safe place just incase your situation changes in the future.
Buying Properties While Tenants Are Being Evicted
One thing to keep in mind… If you are buying a property from a landlord who is still working to evict the tenant, do not close on the house until that tenant is out of the property. You want to know that the tenant is gone so you can make a fresh start. So put in your Purchase And Sale Agreement that the property must be vacant prior to closing.