Apartment complexes and property managers aren’t the only entities that evict people, says Kaila Leavitt, who launched her own business, Leavitt Evictions Services, this year.
“Anyone can be our customer,” she said. “If you let a friend crash in their home for a few days just so he could get back on his feet and now he’s overstayed his welcome and won’t leave, you’re a customer. If your roommate who you let move in tells you she’s not paying rent, you’re a customer. If your tenant who you’ve had for 10 years and has always been on time with rent but all of a sudden doesn’t pay, you’re a customer. You found out your tenant has dogs and is destroying the inside and outside of your home — you’re a customer. Your tenant left your home in shambles and caused $6,000 in damages — you’re a customer.”
Leavitt, who says she’s known as the “Eviction Queen,” aims to alleviate landlords’ biggest headaches.
How long have you been in operation and what prompted you to launch your business?
Leavitt Evictions Services
• Address: 633 S. Seventh St., Las Vegas
• Phone: 702-518-2235
• Website: leavittevictions.com
• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Hours of operation: 8 a.m.-6 p.m. daily
• Owned/operated by: Kaila Leavitt
• In business since: 2019
Before I opened my own business, I was a property manager on Boulder Highway. The previous owners were considered “slum lords.” When I began to act as the new property manager, everybody who lived there had zero faith in me. In fact, the tenants took bets on how long I would last. I felt bad for the tenants — you name something that could break, it was broken at my property. I did everything in my power to ensure that the people who were living there felt safe in their own homes. Whenever a maintenance problem arose, I tried to fix it ASAP. Soon enough, I lost the title of “slum lord” and became “the property manager.”
I ran into problems every day at that property. When the first of the month came and rent was due, I was completely out of my element. The question of “what happens if they don’t pay?” kept me up at night. I had zero clue what to do. My grandmother, who was also a property manager, told me that evictions were a breeze. She gave me the number of an attorney and when I called, they quoted me $2,500 for the entire eviction. I, not knowing anything about evictions, thought to myself, “is that reasonable?”
When I contacted the owner of the apartment complex, I was berated for not knowing how to file an eviction. That next month, I spent hours doing research on how to do an eviction. I had to learn all the rules. I failed 13 times. On the 14th try, the eviction was granted. When I went to court the first time, I saw landlords lose their cases due to silly mistakes that could’ve been avoided if someone had just helped them and answered their questions. It was at that moment I knew that I needed to open up my own eviction business and help landlords with their own evictions.
What services do you offer?
We offer eviction services for landlords and property managers. Having been a property manager myself, I know that sickening feeling you get when a tenant mutters the words, “you’re going to have to evict me.” We help our clients with the entire process. We are on-call from 8 a.m. — if we’re awake, we’ll answer. We’re also licensed process servers. We don’t have to reach out to a third party person to serve our notices; it’s all done in house. Once we serve eviction notices, we take a picture of the notice and send it to the landlord or property manager, and alert clients when the notice has expired.
We walk you through each and every step so we can provide comfort in knowing that experts are taking care of the entire thing and it’ll be done correctly the first time. We also serve other documents: small claims notices, divorce papers, child custody papers and more.
At the end of the day, what our services offer is a peace of mind.
What’s the biggest misconception about your business?
One comment I get often when I tell people I’m an eviction expert is, “I can’t believe you throw families out on the street.” We’re not a bad business. We do everything legally. There are times when landlords and property managers don’t know the law and we have to educate them on tenant/landlord rights, but if you come into the business of owning property and deciding to rent it out not knowing the business, then you’re going to get into some trouble.
What are key landlord and renters’ rights that people should know?
Landlords have the right to enter a unit by giving a two-hour notice to tenants with the date and time that they will be entering. If the tenant does not allow access to the unit, that’s grounds for termination of the lease. After an eviction takes place and the tenant is locked out of the unit by the constable and a locksmith, you have to hold onto their items for 30 days. During those 30 days, you may charge and collect the reasonable and actual costs of inventory, moving and storage before releasing the property to the tenant.
The biggest misconception is about withholding rent. The news has broadcasted this, other tenants tell each other they can withhold rent because they have a habitable problem. This, I am sorry, is not true. Tenants can withhold rent from the landlord but they still have to deposit that money to the court’s escrow account. Many tenants run into hot water when they go to court claiming habitable problems. By depositing the rent into the court’s escrow account, you are telling the judge that you have the money, but you’re not giving the money to the landlord until the problem is fixed.
Landlords cannot raise the rent randomly. They have to give a 45-day notice.
What costs are associated with eviction services?
Our prices change with inflation. However, we never charge people for what they don’t need. Our first step is to give the tenant a notice of what they’re being evicted for. If they don’t pay or fix the problem after receiving that notice, we have to file our paperwork with the courts. If you pay us to file the paperwork, but then a few hours later you go to the property and you realize they have moved out, then we will either give you a partial or full refund.
If your tenant files an answer or a response to the notice, then a court date will be set. You can appear or we can appear on your behalf. Many people who go to court become afraid and overwhelmed. We have done this numerous times and there’s not too many cases where we say, “This is new.” There’s a lot of surety when we appear on your behalf.
What is your business philosophy?
“Keep it simple.” Evictions can be hard and scary for someone who has no knowledge of the process. The best thing for everybody is to just keep it simple. Many eviction companies will write on their website the different notices that can be given. That is confusing. Nobody knows what a “tenancy at will” is. On my website, there are four reasons why you could be evicting somebody:
• They didn’t pay you rent.
• They have a lease violation.
• They’re a nuisance.
• You don’t have a reason. You just want them gone.
By selecting one of these, I know what notice to give. When a landlord explains why they want to evict someone, I don’t tell them, “We’ll serve a 5-day tenancy at will followed with a 5-day unlawful detainer.” That’s too much information and too confusing. Instead, I say, “We’ll serve a notice notifying them they have five days to get out. If they don’t, we have to give them an additional five days. If they still don’t leave after both those notices expire, then we’ll ask the court for help.”
What are the challenges and rewards that come with starting your own business?
Failure is a scary thing for everybody, especially those who are just starting a business. Luckily, I was successful and had nothing but support from family and friends.
The biggest reward is hearing how thankful my clients are that I was able to help. It brings me nothing but joy when clients call or email thanking me and telling me how they’re going to tell everyone who has an eviction problem to come to me. That’s why I’m now known as the Eviction Queen.
What’s the best business advice you’ve received?
My mom, Patricia Leavitt, told me to do what I say I’m going to do and if I don’t know something, admit that I don’t know. If there is ever a time I don’t know the answer to something, I tell my clients, “I don’t know, but I’m going to find out for you,” and I go out of my way to find answers. When people come to me, they’re trusting me with one of the biggest headaches they’ll ever have. I will be the happy ending of their horror story.
Another piece of advice was from my father, Andrew Leavitt. He told me there was no substitute for hard work. There’s so much that you can learn from your business as a team leader, and working toward the same goals. Working hard can sometimes be tough, but at the end of the day, it’s worth it.
Published on Vegas Inc. https://vegasinc.lasvegassun.com/business/2019/sep/09/for-eviction-queen-clients-peace-of-mind-is-top-of/