What to do if Tenant Moves Out Prior to Eviction Court Date

Being a landlord definitely has its perks, but there are also undeniable stresses that come along with this job as well.

One of the more nerve-racking aspects of this life is dealing with tenants who don't live up to expectations.

When this occurs, the lengthy process of having the tenant evicted can begin, but these scenarios don't always end the same.

One possible outcome is that the tenant moves out before the court date and, in these instances, landlords need to ensure that they handle the situation correctly.

Never Make Assumptions
Even if it appears that a tenant has moved out prior to their eviction court date, it's important to not do anything based on this assumption until it's found to be 100 percent true.

In fact, no action should be taken after filing for eviction until the tenant turns their keys in, and this in essence will be them turning over possession.

The problem is that, if a landlord does something like change the locks and the tenant decides to come back, the landlord could be in legal trouble.

No, it's not likely that a tenant would pack all their things, move out, and then come back later. If for whatever reason they did do this, though, a landlord can face the legal repercussions of locking a tenant out of their home.


This definitely seems unfair, but it's always better to be safe than sorry.

A landlord who has gone a certain amount of time without rent payments or their property can survive financially until at least their court date.

Consider Other Legal Options
In cases where a tenant does turn over possession of a rental, it doesn't mean they're off the hook.

If back rent, future rent, or damages are owed, for instance, a landlord can still sue for these payments.

Fortunately, there are a variety of legal forms that can be found online to handle just about any potential contingency.


Of course, the landlord may need to dismiss their original case and file a new one.

This can vary by locale. It's important to consider, though, whether seeking damages is really worth the trouble.

Many landlords have found doing this to be financially draining since it often ends in a judgment against a person who has no assets.

Don't Miss Court
Yes, it seems like it would be pointless to show up to court when a tenant has vacated the property.

If that tenant hasn't turned over possession, though, everything isn't said and done.

In fact, if the tenant then sneakily shows up to court and the landlord doesn't, a judge will throw out the eviction case by not issuing a writ.


In court, the landlord can ask for a default judgment and then go about making their property suitable for rent.

Even in cases where the tenant has turned over their keys, it's not a bad idea to still go to court and not cancel the date.

This will ensure that the tenant is officially evicted, and no other problems should arise related to this issue later.


The complexities of acting as a property manager run deep, but they should never dissuade a person from enjoying the task.

While issues such as the aforementioned may arise, the law will often work them out in a positive manner.

Simply understanding how these situations work is often enough to make them go more smoothly.

Posted on Jan 15, 2015

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