How to Evict a Tenant

Product Tenant Check September 9, 2019
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How to Evict a Tenant

Renting out a property can be a risky business. Tenant screening is critical when finding a tenant but life changes, delinquencies, and untrustworthy tenants happen. Finding the right tenants doesn’t always pay off and eviction may be necessary. It is important to handle evictions from a business standpoint. By making the right eviction choices and following the local law, you put yourself at less risk for legal repercussions. 

Here is a quick guide on the proper steps to evict a problem tenant.

Understand the Eviction Laws

Knowing the laws for renting in your area is key. Knowing what the eviction laws are before renting the property can help in your tenant screening process as well. Eviction laws, which vary from state-to-state, should also be included as terms of your lease agreement. This way you have signed documentation showing that the tenant knows under what terms they will be evicted.

  • Understand the Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (URLTA)
    • Not all states have adopted all of the terms of URLTA, but it is crucial to know if these are in effect in your state.
    • Landlord duties in URLTA focus on maintaining the livability of a unit/rental. This includes such things as keeping building up to code, making repairs, keeping common areas clean, maintaining electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, and other facilities running, providing receptacles for waste, and supplying running water, including hot water, at all times.
    • Tenant duties in URLTA are similar to the landlord but involve maintaining the cleanliness of the unit, its utilities, using utilities and facilities in a reasonable manner, disposal of waste in accordance with the property’s provided receptacles, and not defacing or damaging the property.
    • For more information on the adoption of the act visit Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant Act.

Have a Reason for the Eviction

  • Evicting a tenant without reasonable cause will not help you when you have to take them to court. You will need documented proof and a lawful reason to evict. Things that can get a tenant evicted, with fair notice, include the following:
    • Failure to pay rent
    • Breaking lease terms including pets, subletting, noise ordinances, and illegal use
    • Damaging the property
    • Health or safety hazards
  • If your reason for eviction does not fall into one of the mentioned reasons or you want to attempt to work out the issue without costly legal fees, it may be time to discuss the issue with them. A public place may be preferable to avoid conflict in someone’s home or office. If the tenant does not comply or cooperate it may be time to evict.

Evict the Tenant

  • Provide a Formal Eviction Notice
    • It is required that you provide the tenant with an eviction notice. This document is intended to inform the tenant of the eviction and the reasons behind it.
      • It must include the deadline to pay rent, clean up, etc.
      • It must include any fees owed and their due dates.
      • You will need to post it to the front door and mail it.
      • Each city/state has regulations on how many days notice are to be provided to the tenant before the paperwork can be filed with the local court.
      • State-specific forms can be found here.
  • File Eviction with Local Court
    • It is illegal in all states to evict a tenant yourself. You mush get a court order to evict, no matter how bad the tenant.
    • You cannot remove the tenant or their property, change the locks, harass the tenant, or shut off utilities. 
    • It is to your benefit to follow the letter of the law and evict bad tenants accordingly.
  •  Go to Court
    • Bringing the proper paperwork (and have done everything up to this point by the books) is key. The following will be the bare minimum to bring:
      • Lease agreements
      • Bounced checks
      • Records of any payment
      • Phone and email records of any communication between you and tenant
      • A copy of the written notice that you provided your tenant
      • Dated proof that the tenant received the notice
  • Evict the Tenant
    • If the court proceedings go in your favor, the tenant will be given a timeframe (dependant on city/state laws) to move out.
    • If they fail to do so, check with your local laws to see what legal options you have to force the eviction.
  • Collecting Past-Due Rent
    • Options for collecting past-due rent may be provided by the court. 
    • Other options that may be available in your area include:
      • Small Claims Court
      • Garnishing Their Wages
      • Garnish Their Tax Refund
      • Private Debt Collector

Evicting a tenant is an expensive and time-consuming process. It can easily become a difficult situation to get through, which is why it is important to prioritize finding the right tenant from the start.  Using Whitepages TenantCheck can help you avoid such an unpleasant outcome with your tenant.