As a landlord, you hope you’ve vetted your tenants thoroughly enough that the need for eviction is minimized. Unfortunately, despite all the safeguards in place to avoid such a situation, there can still come a time when eviction becomes the only option in dealing with a problem tenant.
When is Eviction Legal?
You cannot evict someone for any reason that could be interpreted as discrimination, such as race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or the presence of children. In addition, it is unlawful to evict someone because they need to use a service animal.
Many of the legal reasons for eviction come down to what is included in the lease as well as the specific laws of the state in which your rental property is located. Spelling out terms in the lease provides the legal reason you will be able to evict a tenant, so sure to review the terms of the lease to ensure it includes all policies and expectations before offering it to a tenant to sign. If it’s not clearly stated in the lease, it is likely not a legal reason for eviction.
Failure to abide by property guidelines or restrictions are also reasons to evict a tenant. This includes a tenant operating a business out of the residence, subletting without written permission, or exceeding the number of approved tenants. If spelled out in the rental agreement, tenants can also be evicted for violating terms of the lease, such as a pet in a property where pets aren’t allowed.
One common reason to evict a tenant is the failure to pay rent on time; but a tenant can be legally evicted when they break other terms of the lease as well. Illegal drug use or using the property for some other criminal activity, assaulting or threatening other residents, or damaging the rental unit or common areas are all valid reasons for eviction.
Different Types of Evictions
Evictions can be classified in three ways:
1. Just Cause
In this type, the landlord must provide a valid reason for why he or she is forcing tenants from the property, such as a tenant not paying rent or a tenant causing damage, known more specifically as a tenant damage property eviction.
This is the safest way to evict a tenant for landlords because the reasoning should be clearly explained in the lease; however, a tenant can still pursue legal action if they feel the reason for eviction is not valid. Be sure to document any time the tenant violates the terms of their lease to make a clear case for a just cause eviction.
2. Without Cause
Under this scenario, the tenancy is ended before the natural end of the lease without any stated reason. This can be initiated by either the landlord or tenant. Eviction without cause can occur at any point if the tenant is on a month-to-month basis. As a landlord, ending a lease without cause can put you at risk for legal trouble if the tenant is unhappy with the decision and finds it unjust.
3. Constructive Eviction
This form of eviction under which a landlord forces a tenant out by causing a property to be uninhabitable is illegal. Examples may include refusing to have plumbing repaired or turning off the electricity. As a landlord, you have a legal responsibility to provide your tenant with a safe space to live. If you fail to do so, tenants have the right to pursue damages.
How long does it take to evict a tenant?
The eviction process varies state by state, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with local laws. However, there are some basic steps you can expect to follow:
1. Begin with a Valid Reason for Eviction
Be sure your reason for eviction is clear, enforceable and clearly spelled out in your lease agreement. You should also be able to provide proof that the action or behavior has taken place.
2.Present a Formal Notice
If you have valid reasons to evict a tenant, along with the evidence to prove it, move forward with a formal notice stating the reason for the eviction and an ultimatum for addressing the problem. Check laws applying to your area to learn the number of days’ notice you need to provide.
Include specifics as applicable, such as the amount of rent owed. In addition to posting, you’ll probably want to provide notice through certified mail.
3. Wait for Tenant’s Response
If the tenant moves out or complies with the ultimatum, the process is over. If the tenant refuses, you will need to move forward with the eviction process.
4. File with the Court
Visit your local courthouse to file the eviction. Expect to pay a nominal fee. Filing will allow you to move forward and hold a hearing. Be sure to prepare for the hearing by gathering what evidence you have that the tenant has violated the lease agreement.
5. Removing the Tenant
If you win the hearing, the tenant will be ordered to vacate the premises. However, it is possible they will ignore this order, in which case you will need to involve law enforcement.
The amount of time it takes to complete eviction following the court’s decision in your favor may vary by location but is usually considered to be 30 days. While the entire eviction process can be lengthy, you can expedite matters with a clear and concise lease, which is less likely to spark a legal battle during the eviction.
Walk Away From the Property
While eviction provides a remedy for dealing with problem tenants, the process can be time-consuming and costly. Luckily, there is another way to solve the problem. Consider selling your property and re-investing elsewhere.
HomeGo will buy your rental property and take your problem tenant off your hands. With HomeGo, there’s no need to make repairs caused by troublesome tenants, we’ll purchase your property in as-is condition. Don’t spend another second pulling your hair out due to the stress of terrible tenants. Let HomeGo provide you with a clean start.