Posted in Blog  
  on Aug 22, 2014

How to Evict a Tenant for Not Paying Rent

Although a rental property allows someone the ability to have a place that they can call home, the bottom line between the landlord and the tenant is a business relationship. The leasing agreement is a contract that both parties must follow. If either party violates that contract, then legal measures can be taken to rectify that situation. What is one of the most common reasons why this contract is broken? A tenant not paying the rent. Here's what you need to do to evict a tenant who has not paid the rent, whether they can afford to do so or not.

You Must First Give Them Written Notice

In order to begin the eviction process, you must first notify the tenant in writing that they are in violation of the lease. Many landlords or property managers will tape these notices to a door or even slip them underneath a door, but the best legal method is to send this notice by certified mail. This gives you documented evidence that you sent the notice and that it was received. This written notice must outline why they are in violation, what needs to be done to rectify the violation, and what steps may be taken if the rent continues to remain unpaid.

This Notice Must Be Based Off of Your Lease Terms

If your rent is due on the first of the month, then you can send out your notification, which is called a Notice to Pay or Quit, the very next day. If, however, your lease has a grace period where the rent can be paid without penalty, this notice cannot be sent out until the day after the grace period has expired. Some landlords and property managers also have a period of time where the rent can be paid with an additional late fee. If this is the case, the notice cannot be sent until after the late payment with penalty period has expired in many jurisdictions. Because of this, it is important to clearly define when rent is due, when your grace period expires, and when the late payment penalty period expires. Without clear definitions in the contract, a tenant may not qualify for a eviction for non-payment.

You Must Then File a Petition Before the Court

If the tenant does not respond to your Notice to Pay or Quit, you can begin eviction proceedings with your local court system. You cannot turn off utilities, change locks, or remove personal property during this period of time. Only the court can legally evict a tenant and this must come in the form of a court order. This typically takes 1-2 weeks after the eviction filing takes place. Many tenants don't want this filing to take place because it becomes part of their permanent credit record and will likely settle before you reach this stage. If you do get the court order for an eviction, however, you must allow the local Sheriff's department to perform the task. Landlords are not allowed to evict on their sole discretion. Once the eviction has been completed, you will then be able to restore the premises to a marketable condition using the tenant's security deposit, potentially charge for rent until the property is occupied once again, and other charges based on your jurisdiction. You may also be able to pursue additional charges in another lawsuit. Evicting a tenant does generally take about three weeks and if it isn't done correctly, may force you to start over from the beginning. Make sure to know local laws in-depth so that you can evict a tenant for not paying rent properly.


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