Evictions are, unfortunately part and parcel of being a landlord. Nobody wants to have to go through an eviction process, and hopefully you won’t have to. However, knowing the process, and knowing how to prepare is absolutely necessary to avoid expensive complications.
The best practice is always avoidance. Screen your tenants carefully. But it can happen no matter how careful you are in your selection process.
So, we have broken down the process for you step by step.
It’s important to note that specific laws vary from state to state so it is worth checking your state's specific tenancy and eviction lawsbefore stepping into the landlording ring.
It may seem easier, quicker and more straight forward to simply kick your bad tenant out yourself, however, it is illegal to do so in all states. You must follow the legal process. The process is there to protect all parties and make sure that a fair verdict is reached.
Some examples of things you cannot do without going through the necessary legal steps include:
You must go through the legal process step by step. This can take weeks but if you don’t you will find yourself liable to a lawsuit from the tenant.
The first step of getting new tenants is to make them sign the lease agreement. This lays down the rules and serves as a form of protection for both you and the tenant.
You should customise each of your leases specific for each property that you rent out as each property has its own idiosyncrasies.
This is also a great chance to outline exactly what you expect from the tenant. For example, if you want them to trim the hedges in the yard routinely or mow the lawn, specify such in the lease.
If you don’t get them to sign a legally binding lease, you will find it much much harder to evict them should the need arise.
If you decide you need to evict your tenant then you need a valid and legal reason. This can’t just be they’re rude or disrespectful. They need to have been obviously in breach of your lease.
Common reasons for eviction include:
You will want to check with your local state laws to determine what counts a being in breach of the terms of a lease.
So, you have a bad tenant that you want rid of. You have a valid reason and can prove they are in breach of your lease (that they signed at the beginning of their tenancy).
The first part of the legal eviction procedure, in most statesis giving them a formal eviction notice.
The eviction notice should include:
The eviction procedure vary in each state, in terms of how termination notices and eviction papers must be written and served, but the basic principles are similar. A landlord may start court proceedings to evict a tenant after giving one of these three notices:
Once you have sent the eviction notice, the ball is in their court. There are many evictions that never have to move past this point because they are fixed by the tenant after the notice has been delivered.
However, this is not always the case. If nothing has changed since the eviction notice was sent and the deadline provided to the tenants has come and gone, then your next step is to file the eviction with your local courts.
If the tenant has not fixed the issue at hand within the specified time after being given the eviction notice then you will want to go to your local courthouse to formally file for eviction.
Typically you will pay a fee to file the paperwork which will depend on the courthouse. Once filed you will be given a court date - either whilst you are there by the clerk or informed later by post.
The court is also responsible for notifying the tenant for you in the form of a summons.
One thing to note is that when you go to file the with you local courthouse you may be asked to prove that you have given the tenant ample time to respond to their eviction notice in accordance with your state laws. This is where the USPS mail receipt comes in handy - you should also have a copy of the eviction notice on you.
The court hearing could be weeks away or days away. Either way you want to make sure that when you attend you are fully prepared.
Make sure you have all the documentation you will need.
Going to court can be stressful, time consuming and unnerving. The more prepared you are the better. Let your documentation do the talking for you.
At the very least you will need to bring:
If the court rules in your favour the tenant will be ordered to leave the premises in a set amount of time (again the number of days varies from state to state), depending on your local laws from 48 hours to 7 full days.
The court will provide both you and the tenant with a copy of the ruling.
Note: If the tenant doesn’t turn up to the court hearing, the judge may automatically rule in your favour - so it’s always a good idea to attend even if you think they may be a no-show.
If they still refuse to leave after the court ordered period then you still cannot legally evict them yourself. You will need to get someone from your Sheriffs department to escort them out and remove their possessions from the building.
This is not the most favourable outcome and can add even more time to the process. But it does happen, whatever you do, make sure you abide by the law.
A main reason for evicting a tenant is because they haven’t been paying their rent.
There are a few recourses you can take to ensure that you get the full amount of owed rent repaid.
If this was the main reason for eviction then hopefully they would have been given a court ordered judgement on how they were to repay the debt owed and a timeline. If not you can do one of the following.
1) File in small claims court.
This may come with another court filing fee.
2) Talk to their employer and organise a wage garnishment.
If the court ruling determines that the tenant does in fact owe you rent still, but doesn't specify how they are to pay, you will receive a judgement in your favour. You can take this to their employer and arrange with them a wage garnishment. Meaning that you will get paid from the tenants wages.
3) Hire a private debt collector.
This will cost money, but they will also report the debt collection to one of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) which will show up on their credit report and help future landlords avoid these tenants.
If you are unsure about how or what you need to do to properly comply with your local state laws we advise you seek legal advice from a professional.
We hope you found this blog interesting! However, do note that it should not be used as a substitute for competent legal and/or other advice from a licensed professional.
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