Eviction Law and Evicting a Tenant
Evicting a problem tenant can be a long and costly experience as landlord-tenant laws favor tenants over landlords. Getting a better understanding of eviction law can help.
What Is an Eviction?
An eviction is the forceful exiting of tenants following an issued notice by the property owner or landlord. Evictions usually come as a result of failure to pay rent or violations of the lease agreement. Eviction law refers to the regulations in place that dictate when and how this process takes place.
Even though eviction notices are issued as a result of serious issues with the tenant, not all eviction notices lead to an actual eviction. Oftentimes, eviction notices serve as a final warning for the tenant. If the tenant can then pay rent or follow the lease agreement, they may avoid eviction.
When Can Landlords Send a Termination Notice?
There are a few common reasons for issuing an eviction notice. See a few of these below.
The Tenant Doesn’t Pay Rent
If a tenant frequently pays rent late or has not paid rent at all, there is a good reason for eviction. Some states do have a grace period for an occasional late payment, but if a tenant makes a habit of always paying late, that grace period does not apply and the property owner can provide an eviction notice.
You should always provide your tenant with “late rent” notices and keep a copy for yourself in your files. That way, if the eviction case goes to court, you have paper evidence of their failure to pay rent on time.
The Tenant Violates the Terms or Conditions of the Lease Agreement
Lease agreements are legal contracts, which means if your tenant violates the contract in any way, it can be grounds for eviction. For example, if your lease agreement says that your tenant cannot have an additional person living in the unit and you discover they have violated that rule, you can begin the eviction notice process.
The lease agreement is also legally binding for the landlord. This means that a landlord must also follow the rules laid out in the agreement, such as making repairs and performing maintenance that is agreed upon in the lease.
The Tenant Damages the Property
Tenants are going to cause damage to the property; it’s unavoidable. Wear and tear when living in a home is normal. Still, there’s a difference between scratches on the wall or broken blinds and intentional destruction of property.
If it’s clear that your tenant is doing severe damage to your property, such as breaking through walls or smashing windows, that may be cause for eviction. However, if your tenant makes the repairs themselves and doesn’t make any major changes to the property, this might not be grounds for eviction.
The Tenant Uses the Property for Illegal Purposes
If your tenant is using your property for illegal purposes, such as selling drugs or weapons, then that is clear grounds for eviction. Reporting the issue might also bring criminal charges against the tenant for the actions committed.
Be prepared to provide some evidence that the tenant used the property for illegal purposes. If law enforcement came to the property to address these issues at any time, the resulting reports can prove helpful.
How to Evict a Tenant
If you want to evict a tenant for any of the above-listed reasons, you need to understand the eviction process. Here’s how it works.
Step 1. Check Your Local Laws
Eviction laws are different in each state and may also vary at the city level, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with local laws before taking any action. Always ensure you have a legally valid reason for eviction before giving notice. An attorney can review your case to determine if you do.
Step 2. Give a Formal Notice of Eviction
If you have tried to reason with your tenants and they continue to violate the terms of your lease, you should then provide them with a formal notice of eviction. Your eviction notice will serve as an ultimatum or final warning, explaining how your tenant is in violation and what they can do to stop the eviction process.
The eviction notice should include a deadline to either pay rent or move out and the amount owed by the tenant. If you’re unsure of how to create an eviction notice, you can use online templates or seek legal advice.
Step 3. File the Eviction with the Court
The eviction notice needs to be filed with the court within a few days. The court will set up a hearing date and will notify the tenant of this hearing by a summons.
Step 4. Contact an Eviction Attorney and Prepare for the Hearing
If you have not already contacted an attorney, find one soon to help you prepare for the hearing. When you go to the hearing, you should bring the following documents:
- Lease agreements
- Records of payments
- Bounced checks
- Record of communication between you and the tenant
- Record of the eviction notice
- Proof that the tenant received the notice
Step 5. Evict the Tenant
If you’ve won the hearing, your tenant will have time to move out of your property. The amount of time is dependent on the state, but it typically ranges from 48 hours to one week. If the tenant refuses to leave, you can contact law enforcement to remove them from the property.
Step 6. Collect Past-Due Rent Payments
If your tenant owes you rent money, you still have a long fight ahead to collect past-due payments. You can try to collect these payments through a number of methods:
- Hiring a private debt collector
- Garnishing their tax refunds
- Garnishing their wages
- Taking the case to small claims court
Work with an Experienced Eviction Attorney
The tenant will likely try to argue that you did not follow the proper procedures for providing an eviction notice. Having an attorney on your side can take the pressure off your back and help ensure a victory in court.
The first step is finding the right eviction law attorney to take on your case. Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!