Almost all landlords will eventually have to evict one of his tenants. To evict means to use legal methods to force a tenant to leave the landlord’s property if they will not do so voluntarily.
There are many reasons a landlord may have to evict, including the tenant not paying rent or breaching his lease. Sometimes a landlord and tenant just can’t see eye to eye on various things such as repairs or late fees, and the landlord wishes for the tenant to leave but the tenant will not go voluntarily, so the landlord is forced to begin the eviction procedure.
When a landlord finds himself in this type of situation and wishes to file an eviction suit to force the tenant to leave, it is imperative to follow all relevant laws exactly and fill out the legal forms and other papers correctly and accurately. If this is not done properly, your eviction request may be denied and you will have to start over again, but if you do everything correctly and prove your case, the tenant will be legally forced to leave and you will have the full support of the local sheriff in removing him if he still refuses to go.
To try to avoid the cost and aggravation of having to evict a tenant, write out all of the situations or circumstances that would cause you to ask a tenant to leave and include those in your lease agreement so you will have a solid foundation based on breach of contract should you have to file an eviction suit. By signing the lease agreement with these stipulations included, the tenant is agreeing to all these terms when they sign the lease.
Each landlord will have different standards. Some may allow pets and some may not. Some may be strict on the number of occupants and some will not care. Standard items are damaging the property or tenants doing any kind of criminal activity on the rented property such as drug use or sales. Unless it involves discrimination or other legally prohibited actions, each landlord has the right to set forth “dos and don’ts” for tenants renting his property.
When you have come to the conclusion that you have no alternative but to evict a tenant, gather together all of the documentation you will need to provide evidence that the tenant has breached his lease. The lease agreement is the most single important document. You will also need any other written documents you may have given to the tenant, including letters you have written him warning him that his actions are unacceptable or notes you have made detailing any oral warnings.
If nonpayment of rent is an issue, make copies of any relevant canceled checks. If a tenant has engaged in illegal activity or activities that create problems with neighbors, make sure you have any applicable copies of police reports or notes or letters from neighbors, etc.
You will then need to prepare an eviction notice which states the reasons you are proceeding with the eviction and give the tenant a deadline by which he must vacate the leased premises and deliver it to the tenant.
One type of eviction notice is a Notice to Vacate. This is the simplest type of eviction notice and applies when the tenant breaches the lease agreement in some way which has been set forth in the lease agreement such as nonpayment of rent or having additional occupants move in.
If a tenant is late on his rent, a Notice to Pay Rent applies. If the tenant has damaged the property or been overly noisy behaving in an unacceptable manner by some other action, a Notice to Vacate Because of a Nuisance is applicable
You will need to go to the court in your county to arrange for the eviction notice to be formally delivered (in legal terms, served) to the tenant. When you go to the court, you will need to have several copies of your eviction notice and be prepared to pay a small filing fee. You will also need to have copies of all of your supporting documentation.
The county clerk may file them and give you two sets of official documents: one for you and one for the tenant. In most states the clerk will give you a document called a Summons to serve upon the tenant. A court date may also be set at that time to give the tenant his right to argue against the eviction if he feels he has been wronged.
The next step is to serve the official documents which were given to you by the court clerk to the tenant. Note that the documents must be personally served on the tenant by putting them directly into his hands. If you would rather not do this yourself, you can pay the county sheriff”s office or a private process server to serve it on the tenant. In some circumstances it may also be delivered by certified mail, but in order for the service to be accepted by the court using this method, the tenant must sign for delivery, proving that he did receive it.
A certification of service of the official documents on the tenant will be located on the summons, on the back of the summons, or as its own document. Make sure that this has been properly filled out and that the person who served the tenant, whether it was you, the sheriff’s deputy, or the private process server, has signed it, then bring it to the county clerk to be filed.
If the tenant does not respect the documents and voluntarily leave then you will need to go to court. Be well prepared! You must prove your allegations in court with tangible evidence. When you are in court, offer your documents as calmly and logically as possible.
If you prevail in court, a Writ of Possession will be issued which continues the process of the eviction. A date will be set for the tenant to vacate the rented premises, and you must arrange for a sheriff’s deputy to be present on that date in case the tenant still persists in refusing to leave or is difficult. If necessary, the sheriff will forcibly remove the tenant and arrange for his belongings to be put in storage.
Please note that each state has different rules on the number of days the tenant has before he must vacate the premises. Make sure you verify this timeframe before you prepare and serve an eviction notice. If you serve improper paperwork, it may delay the eviction process and you may have to begin the whole process again.