How to Properly Evict a Tenant
The right way to handle a very stressful situation
A landlord’s responsibility is more than just accepting money at the end of each month and making sure the rental property is in good shape. Being a landlord is about building a quality relationship with the tenant and looking out for the best interest of all parties involved, no matter the circumstances. However, being a great landlord can also mean having crucial conversations with tenants about not paying rent or breaking the terms of the lease.
Evictions can sometimes seem like a harsh punishment for a tenant who isn’t following the rules. Still, it is important to remember that even a great landlord is not immune to having a bad experience with a tenant and well… it is part of the business.
Sometimes the eviction process can be as simple as the tenant not being able to pay the rent and the landlord asking them to leave. On other occasions, a landlord will have to go through the formal eviction process to remove the tenant legally (and respectfully). Below is a general guide of how to navigate the eviction process so that both landlord and tenant rights are taken into consideration.
Know the Law (every state is different)
Know that every state is different when it comes to the topic of “evictions” and as a landlord, you need to understand the laws and regulations set forth by your specific state. To better understand the eviction process for your state, contact the County’s Clerks Office in your jurisdiction.
Have a valid reason for evicting your tenant
When a landlord wants to evict a tenant, they must have a VALID reason for doing so. Reasons such as:
- Not paying rent
- Violation of the lease terms
- Carrying on illegal activities
- Creating a health or safety problem
A tenant can only be evicted if a valid reason is stated, and the tenant was provided with ample time to address the concern. Meaning- a landlord must document all contact with a tenant when bringing up concerns.
Don’t use force
As a landlord (and a tenant), NEVER use force to remedy the situation. Landlords have rights, but so do tenants. Know that it is illegal to:
- Lock the tenant out of the rental property
- Remove the tenant’s property from the home
- Cut off utilities to the home (electricity, water, sewage)
- Engage with the tenant in a forceful manner
If you want the courts to rule in your favor, follow the rules and showcase that you are a law-abiding citizen.
Get your documentation in order
Gather all the related documents needed to prove that your tenant has broken the leasing agreement. Documents such as:
- A signed and dated lease agreement
- Written notices you have sent to the tenant addressing the concern (with dates)
- Past rent payment records
- Proof of your claim- bounced rent checks, unpaid bills, photos of the destruction
Provide a formal “Pay or Quit” eviction notice
The eviction process is different in every state, but there are commonalities no matter the laws governing your jurisdiction. For starters, your eviction notice should contain:
- Date the eviction notice was presented
- Amount owed or item to be fixed
- The number of days to remedy the situation
- The eviction notice must be placed on the front door and sent in the mail
Make sure to follow the pay amount outlined by your jurisdiction and have the proper paperwork in place before you start the process.
File with the court and be ready for a hearing
If the tenant hasn’t addressed the problem in the number of days stated on the eviction notice, it is time to file a formal eviction with the court and let Uncle Sam take care of the rest. To do this, take all of the documentation (lease, records of payment, records of communication with tenant, written notices, “Pay or Quit” eviction letter) to the courthouse and begin the process to take your tenant to court.
Evicting your tenant
Once the paperwork is filed, and your court hearing date is set, the tenant will have the choice to either: 1) vacate the property or 2) go to court and plead their case. Often times, if a landlord has the proper documentation, the judge will rule in the landlord’s favor and the tenant will have a set amount of time to leave the property. If your tenant doesn’t leave, you have the right to get law enforcement involved.
Consider hiring a property manager in the future
If you aren’t the kind of person who wants to deal with a tenant and the many issues that arise when renting a home, contact a property management service. At Oak City Properties, we make sure to work with you each step of the way when renting your property. Our full management property service will market the property, locate prospective tenants, and show the home. Once a tenant is placed in your rental property, we will: collect rent payments, assess and collect late payment fees, provide 24/7 maintenance, help with accounting/tax services, and deal with any court appearances in the event of an eviction.
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