One of the hassles of being a landlord is related to having to evict your tenants off of your property using an eviction notice.
Most landlords would often rush the process of evicting their tenants, sometimes even forgetting to send out an eviction notice due to lack of knowledge of the state’s eviction laws, or due to simply feeling frustrated and wanting to take matters into their own hands.
However, going through the eviction process step by step is important in terms of legality. Thus, this blog aims to explain the different steps of a proper eviction process, from understanding your state’s laws, through writing an eviction notice, to filing for an eviction with the court.
Know Your Eviction Laws
Before setting your eviction procedures in motion, and well before handing out an eviction notice to your tenant, you should ALWAYS make sure that you have a complete understanding of your state’s eviction laws. Keep in mind that when it comes to eviction, each state has its own laws related to rental properties, lease agreements, and the eviction process. One of the main things to consider is whether or not your lease agreement is designed for your state. It is typically a good idea to ask a real estate lawyer to write your lease agreement so that it is compatible with your state’s real estate laws.
Additionally, there are a number of factors that should be taken into consideration before jumping to the eviction notice process.
Landlord and Tenant Act
Make sure you have a clear understanding of the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA), which provides a comprehensive and detailed explanation of the legal side of the eviction process. Over 21 states in the US have adopted this act as the foundation for their state-specific landlord-tenant laws.
Valid Reasons for Eviction
After getting familiarized with your state’s laws regarding evictions, it is time to consider whether or not you have a valid reason for eviction that is compatible with your state’s laws.
Typically, these can be legitimate reasons for filing an eviction notice:
- The tenant fails to pay rent.
- The tenant is causing damage to the rental property.
- The tenant has clearly violated your lease agreement.
- The tenant has caused health or safety hazards.
- The tenant has broken occupancy, noise, or health ordinances.
Approaching the Eviction Process
No matter what it is that your tenant did to get you to consider an eviction notice, and no matter how frustrated you’re feeling or how desperate you get, keep yourself under control and approach the eviction in an appropriate manner.
Don’t Self-Enforce It
While this might be obvious for any landlord, there are some cases when landlords feel that they should take matters into their own hands. When that thought occurs to you, you should immediately shrug it off.
It is NOT OKAY to take self-evict your tenant. In fact, it is ILLEGAL. These are things that you should definitely avoid doing:
- Removing the tenant’s belongings from the rental property.
- Locking your tenant out or changing the locks on the rental property.
- Hiring someone to “remove” the tenant.
- Harassing the tenant to force him/her to evict.
- Shutting off utilities such as water, gas, or electricity.
Give Reasoning a Shot
What you CAN do, however, before filing an eviction notice, is to try to reason with the tenant and convince him/her to evict (keep in mind that reasoning and threatening are two very different things).
Invite your tenant over to dinner, or better yet, take him/her out to brunch at a nearby café, and try to explain to him/her that he/she is doing something wrong, like not paying the rent, for example, and that if he/she does not pay the due rent and rent arrears ASAP, then you will have to file an eviction notice and take the matter to court.
Remind your tenant of the consequences that may result from this process and the embarrassment that he/she would feel when his/her employer gets involved in order for you to get your due rent.
While this might not work 100% of the time, some tenants are reasonable enough to be convinced, saving you the time and effort needed to file an eviction notice and take matters to the court.
Delivering the Eviction Notice
When reason fails, it’s time to get your eviction notice in motion. The eviction notice is a document that you hand out to your tenant to notify him/her that he/she is being evicted, stating the reason/s for eviction, and what he/she can do to avoid the eviction (i.e., pay the due rent).
You can either draft an eviction notice yourself, or you can use a state-specific eviction form template. Either way, your eviction notice should include the following:
- A deadline to move out or pay the rent.
- The amount owed, including all the fees.
You should typically post the notice within a specified number of days before filing the eviction paperwork with the local court. The eviction document should be hanged or taped to your tenant’s front door, and you should also send the document in a certified mail and get a receipt verifying that the document has been delivered to the tenant.
Taking It to the Court
After your eviction notice has been handed out to the tenant, and after the specified number of days has passed, it is time for you to visit the local court and get a hearing scheduled, after which the court will notify the tenant on your behalf to attend the hearing.
Before going to court, you need to make sure that you have all the necessary documents and proofs to protect yourself from any false claims that the tenant might make in court, and be able to prove to the court that the tenant has indeed broken the lease agreement or has not been paying the rent.
The documents that you will need to arm yourself with before going to court are:
- Lease agreement.
- Payment records.
- A copy of the written eviction notice.
- Bounced checks.
- Records of communication (phone and email records).
- Dated proof that the tenant has received the eviction notice.
End of Eviction
If you’ve done everything right, the court should rule in your favor, and the eviction process will finally come to an end. The tenant will move out or will be forced to move out by law enforcement, and you will have won your case.
Don’t forget to collect your past due rent. Check your state’s laws regarding the collection of past due rent, and undergo the necessary steps to get your owed money from your now ex-tenant by either going to the small claims court, garnishing his/her wages, or garnishing his/her tax refunds.
For more blogs and guides related to real estate, visit our website at Mashvisor, and make sure to also check our platform and the different tools that we provide to real estate investors to help them make the best real estate investments and draft the perfect real estate investment plans and strategies.