What can you evict for?

Eviction laws are slightly different in every U.S. state, but many of them are based on the same fundamentals. Generally, landlords needs specific reasons why they’re evicting tenants. Evictions must conform to a specified legal process where tenants are notified of the reasons for eviction processes and have certain time frames to comply with reforms that will stop the eviction process.

Here are some of the things that allow landlords to evict tenants legally.

Breach of Contract

When it comes to eviction, the lease is the landlord’s best weapon. Many different kinds of lease clauses allow for eviction in many different kinds of situations. An eviction process centering on breach of contract, or lease violation, can be about various things like:

· unauthorized number of people or pets

· indoor smoking

· noisy or reckless behavior

· improper use of outdoor equipment that affects landscaping

Because landlords can pursue so many different kinds of breach of contract or lease violation evictions, they tend to write a large number of ‘deal breakers’ into a lease to give them the ability and legal basis to evict a tenant who is non-compliant. For example, a landlord might put into a lease that tenants can’t burn certain kinds of candles, incense, or other items in the housing unit. This prohibition may be based on very real concerns about damage, but if it wasn’t written into the lease, the landlord wouldn’t have any recourse to enforce it. But because items are written into the lease, it gives the landlord a legal basis to try to get someone out of a property.

Rent Non-payment

Typically, if a tenant doesn’t pay the rent once, landlords can start a certain kind of proceeding called ‘pay rent or quit notices.’ This gives the tenant a chance to pay the rent. For tenants who have been late multiple times, or owe multiple months’ back rent, there may be expedited eviction processes available to the landlord, depending on state law and rent control status. See more from this Nolo resource.

For one concrete example, take California tenant law. As this legal guide shows, in California, the landlord can serve a “3 day or quit” notice: this is physically served to the tenant, who has three days to pay. This seems like a short time frame, but consider that after the three days, the landlord still has to file an ‘unlawful detainer lawsuit’ which can, as admitted by the legal firm advising landlords, take weeks or months depending on how cases move through local courts. This example is a good one because the same kind of process holds true in many states, where it may be relatively quick and easy to establish non-payment of rent, getting the actual physical eviction done ca take a whole lot longer.

Other Enforceable Violations

In addition to the above, there are some situations in which landlords can seek to evict a tenant regardless of what’s in a lease. Experts call these ‘unconditional quit notices,’ and they include items like the following:

· serious damage to the property

· doing illegal business on the premises

· legally endangering inhabitants or others

The idea here is that landlords have a right and a responsibility to create a safe space for tenants.

Look for specifics in your state of operation to better understand rules and time frames around an eviction process. The above types of situations are often opportunities to evict a tenant in a legal way.
Posted on Sep 04, 2014


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