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Tenant Eviction: The Do’s and Don’ts

Eviction notice on door of house with brass door knob. Fictitious address, ID, signature and 555 phone number for fictional usage.Being a successful landlord requires a variety of skills, one of which is knowing when and how to evict a tenant. If you want to be a good landlord who follows the law, respects tenants’ rights, and keeps the peace in the workplace, you need to know when you can and cannot evict a tenant.

Understanding Just Cause

The first thing any landlord needs to know is that evicting a tenant is a legal process that ends with a court order. If you own property and wish to evict a tenant, you must be familiar with the applicable state and federal laws governing landlord-tenant interactions in order to do so. Evicting a tenant without proper legal grounds could give rise to fines or even a lawsuit.

To evict a tenant, you must have what is known as “just cause.” Just cause eviction statutes require that you have a legal justification to evict the tenant, such as nonpayment of rent, property damage, or violation of the lease terms. You cannot evict a tenant unless you have just cause.

Reasons You Can Evict

Nonpayment of rent is one of the most prevalent reasons landlords evict tenants. If your renter fails to pay their rent on time, you can issue them formal notice that they have a set number of days to pay or vacate the property, as required by state law. If the tenant fails to comply, you may file for eviction. Just make sure you respect the conditions of your lease as well as any state and municipal laws that may apply.

Property damage is another typical reason for eviction. If your tenant has caused serious damage to the property that goes beyond regular wear and tear, you can serve them with a written notice requiring them to remedy the damage or depart the property. If the tenant fails to comply, you may file for eviction.

Other reasons for evicting a tenant include breaching other terms of their lease. If your tenant has a pet and your contract prohibits pets, you can issue them formal notice to remove the pet or depart the property. If the tenant fails to comply, you may file for eviction. The same is true for all other lease terms.


Reasons You Cannot Evict

It’s not always possible to evict a tenant, even if they’ve committed a serious offense. You cannot evict a renter only because they have made a few requests for maintenance or have voiced some concerns about the condition of the rental unit. You also can’t kick someone out of your rental unit because of who they are or what they believe in, or because of their gender, race, religion, nationality, family status, or disability. A discrimination lawsuit could result from trying to evict someone on the basis of one of these protected characteristics.


Carrying Out an Eviction

If you find yourself in the position of having to evict a tenant, there are a few procedures you must follow. First, you must provide the tenant a written notice stating the grounds for the eviction as well as the date by which they must vacate the property. The next step is to file an eviction petition with the court and have the tenant served. If the tenant fails to appear for their court date, you may be able to secure a default judgment in your favor. Finally, if the tenant still refuses to evacuate the premises, you might have the legal authority in your area remove them.

While evicting a tenant is never easy, it is sometimes necessary. By understanding why you can (and cannot) evict a renter, as well as the stages involved in the eviction process, you’ll reduce legal risks, and promote a fair and courteous living environment for all parties involved.


If you are facing a potential eviction situation, you may want to consult a property management expert for advice. Contact your local Real Property Management office to speak to a local rental property professional today!

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