How do I evict a tenant?
If the time has come to evict a tenant, there are a few things you should do to keep it legal. While laws vary from state to state, here’s a basic rundown of how the process should go.
- Brush up on landlord law.
The Landlord and Tenant Act is a basic outline that many states have adopted as their version of basic rental rights. Nolo is a great resource for researching the reasons you can break a tenant’s lease and evict them. Research thoroughly to make sure your reason for evicting a tenant is legally sound in your state.
- Inform your tenant.
Once you’re sure that your tenant is violating their contract and you decide to move forward with the eviction process, you’ll want to give them a written notice. Your notice of eviction should include the reason for
evictionand a move-out date. In order to keep a record of your eviction notice, post one copy on the door of the residencyand send one via certified mail.
- File it in court.
If your tenant fails to move out by the date specified, you can’t just haul their belongings to the curb and change the locks. You’ll need to take the matter to court by filing an eviction lawsuit and setting a court date (usually, there’s also a small fee involved).The tenant will receive a summons and a court date will be set. Make sure to have all the documentation ready for your court date, including a copy of the lease, payment records, the eviction notice, and proof the tenant received the notice.
- Get your past-due rent.
Once a tenant is ordered by the court to move out, you have a few options for recouping your losses. Some states allow you to combine the eviction lawsuit with a small claims lawsuit. Check with your local court to see if this is an option, since it will save you time and money. If the
judgmentis in your favor, the state will be responsible for garnering a tenant’s wages or their tax refund to pay you back.
Evicting a tenant can be a hassle. However, having the right forms and following the proper procedure can often ease the process along.