Let’s keep it real, evictions stink. Tenants hate them, the majority of landlords hate them, and the courts hate them. Sometimes, however, they are necessary. A tenant’s detrimental behavior, whether it ranges from months of unpaid rent to illegal activity like drug hoarding, must be stopped, which can mean an eviction.
Evictions aren’t easy, especially since the eviction laws from area to area often vary, sometimes significantly. Luckily though, there is a common theme with eviction laws that serves as a basis for any eviction. So, without further ado, here’s what you need to know about eviction laws in the US:
Related: Don’t Let a Fear of Eviction Stop You from Buying Investment Property
You need a reason to evict a tenant
If there’s one thing that’s universal about eviction laws throughout the country, it’s that you must have a reason to evict a tenant. Evictions are not taken lightly; you can’t just evict a tenant because you do not like him/her.
Although evictions themselves are not too common, some reasons justify an eviction to take place. Having a tenant not pay rent could lead to an eviction. Since evictions are a pain, you should try to resolve issues with your tenants in any other way possible first. However, if things go unabated, an eviction may be the last resort. A major reason to evict a tenant is if he/she has seriously damaged the rental property beyond a point that the security deposit can cover. Again, if this can be resolved amicably, go for that solution. Generally, any serious violations of a lease can warrant an eviction.
You must terminate the tenancy
In order to begin an eviction, the tenancy must be terminated. To do this, you must inform the tenant with an eviction notice. This is the way to go with all kinds of leases, even month-to-month ones. There is some confusion as to how an eviction takes place with this kind of investment properties. All there is to it is that a landlord must give the tenant an appropriate notice, which is usually fifteen to thirty days. This notice period may vary by state. To see your state’s laws on month-to-month notices for termination, click here. If the tenant does not leave, an eviction will proceed, as it would with any other kind of property.
You must give the tenant appropriate notice
There are three types of eviction notices to be aware of. Some states might have slight differences in these notices, but the basics remain the same.
1.) Pay or Quit Notice
This notice is usually given to a tenant who has not paid rent. This notice states that the tenant must “pay” the unpaid rent or “quit” the property. The time allowed to fulfill this notice will differ from state to state.
2.) Cure or Quit Notice
A tenant receives a cure or quit notice if he/she has violated the lease agreement in some way. This may range from bringing in pets when it is not allowed to disturbing neighbors in other investment properties around. Like the previous notice, a cure or quit notice gives tenants a time period, set by the law, to “cure” the violation.
3.) Unconditional Quit Notice
Unconditional quit notices give tenants no opportunity to correct their wrongdoing. These notices strictly tell tenants to vacate the rental property or eviction proceedings will begin. The reasons for unconditional quit notices are very serious. Some include consistently unpaid rent, which damages your rental income, illegal activity within the income property, and serious damage to the real estate property.
Tenant may fight back
Tenants don’t back down if an eviction lawsuit is against them. They will resort to defenses, without a doubt. The most common thing a tenant would look at is to see if the landlord followed the proper eviction laws when notifying the tenant. For instance, they may point out that the notice was not sent out properly or that they were not given the correct legal time period. Tenants may also divert by bringing up flaws in the rental property or claiming the eviction was a form of retaliation. To avoid these situations, make sure you follow the appropriate state eviction laws, take care of the income property, and prove that the eviction was justified and not an attack on the tenant.
You cannot enter the property without permission
You always need to follow eviction laws when proceeding with an eviction. Never evict a tenant by your own rules. You cannot enter the income property without permission whatsoever. Also, you cannot remove the tenant or trap him/her in the property. You cannot remove anything belonging to the tenant from inside the property. That can raise a lawsuit on its own. Bottom line, do not touch the property during an eviction process. Follow the eviction laws strictly and keep the entire process legal and moral.
Related: The Most Common Reasons for Lawsuits Between Landlord and Tenant
Laws can differ on all levels
Real estate investors need to be familiar with the law when it comes to investing in real estate. This is true especially with evictions. Eviction laws are put in place to protect tenants, landlords, and real estate properties. The thing is, there are different interpretations when it comes to laws. Still, these differences are often slight in magnitude. Sometimes, however, they have significant implications. For instance, in some states, violations that would typically require a pay or quit notice or a cure or quit notice instead require an unconditional quit notice, which is the harshest of the three. With such kind of variability, some states have gained a reputation as having eviction laws that are “pro-tenant” or “pro-landlord”. Regardless of your opinion of your state’s eviction laws, you still need to follow them. Be aware of your state’s laws to avoid trouble. Also be aware of your county’s laws, as eviction laws have the potential to change from area to area.
Related: 6 Landlord Laws and Concerns You Should Be Aware Of
Evictions are one of the most dreaded topics of real estate investing, which is one reason why they are so important. No matter your investing experience, you should be aware of the basics of eviction laws.
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