Have you ever had to evict a tenant? Check out our previous article in the Being a Landlord series, called Tenant Problems!
Great landlords and property managers know how to deal with bad tenants, and generally prevent them from taking residence in your property to begin with. As with any human being, there is always that slight risk where they will end up being a different person than you expected.
Let’s say a divorce of the perfect couple you rented to ensues. A financial situation hits your tenant and they can no longer pay. Even being a great landlord won’t make you immune to bad tenants.
Whatever the situation is, sometimes a tenant will continuously pay late, cause a ruckus, damage your property, and sometimes end up not paying at all. One of these days, the time may come for you to either ask the tenant to leave or begin eviction proceedings.
It’s not a very enjoyable thing to do, that’s for sure. It’s something that a landlord always dreads. What you may not realize is that just because you own the property, it doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want with it. Land “lord” is a deceiving term. You do have to answer to someone, and that someone would be the city, state, and federal government of your country.
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I will focus on laws that the United States generally uphold, but your country may have similar requirements. Please check your Tenant Rights laws in your state and consult a qualified real estate attorney before seriously going through with an eviction.
Landlordology also has a great resource for landlord laws by state.
5 Reasons You Can Evict
Before we begin, I’ve got an easy solution to getting someone out of your property. Ask them to leave. It sounds deceptively simple, but sometimes expressing concern of a tenant not paying and working out a plan outside of court can make it easier for the both of you. Your laws likely require you to give the tenant proper notice and try to correct the problem without taking legal action anyway. As mentioned above, if you know how to deal with bad tenants, you can usually set them straight by letting them know who is in charge and setting correct expectations.
If you cannot reason with the tenant, you have to start eviction proceedings. You can’t just start eviction proceedings for no reason, or because the tenant has been giving you a hard time or shouting at you. You’ll need justification. Here are a few examples:
Tenant remains on the property after the lease expires, and does not renew (usually this is a misunderstanding, so allow them to get into another lease and you avoid an unnecessary vacancy)
2. Major Damage to Property:
This is certainly unacceptable. You have to prove the damage in court, so make sure you have the documentation necessary.
3. Breaking Rules in the Lease:
The tenant could be violating noise restrictions, harboring too many “live in” guests, or picking up a few more pets that you expected.
4. Selling the Property:
If you have to sell the property, you may be able to evict the tenant with a 30 to 60 day notice. This depends on the state.
5. Illegal Activities (Drugs, etc.):
You can often evict a tenant due to illegal activity on the property grounds. Please check state laws for specifics.
If one (or more) of the above situations apply and you aren’t able to rectify the situation on your own, it’s time to bring in the real estate attorney and get down to business. If you have a property manager, they will handle this for you, but you will be responsible for attorney fees, so don’t take the decision lightly. Sometimes an eviction notice is enough to really get the tenant back on track and show you mean business.
Stay tuned for the next post where we get into the down and dirty regarding the eviction process!