Despite your best efforts to establish a good relationship with your tenant, sometimes the relationship deteriorates. Even if you are a good landlord, you will likely have to go through the eviction process at least once in your career.
Maybe a tenant hasn’t paid the rent, maybe they’re bothering other tenants, or maybe they’ve damaged their rental property.
To end the lease earlier, you must follow the appropriate legal procedure. If you deviate from the established process, not only will you lose your eviction case, but you can also go to civil court and earn a reputation as a slum owner.
1. Decide if you can evict
Most eviction cases start when your tenant doesn’t pay the rent, which is one of the biggest challenges in buying a rental property and becoming a landlord. But while you can’t evict a tenant just for giving them a hard time, you can evict a tenant for other issues such as:
- Remain in the property after the lease expires, which is known as a deferral
- Causing significant damage to your property, but you must prove this damage in court
- Break any specific rules you set in the agreement, such as noise restrictions, guest limitations, or pet rules.
Many states require that you notify the tenant of minor violations and allow them time to correct the problem before the eviction process can begin. If you don’t give your tenant a warning beforehand, a judge may not rule in your favor when the eviction goes through court proceedings.
2. Know the rights of the owner and the tenant
If you decide you can evict and want to move on, familiarize yourself with the Landlord and Tenant Act, which explains the legal process for evicting a tenant. To succeed, you must follow the eviction procedure to the letter. If you miss a step, the judge can rule in favor of the tenant and the tenant may have the right to sue you in civil proceedings.
You can get a copy of the Landlord and Tenant Act from your attorney general’s website. If your state does not publish these deeds online, obtain a printed version from your local registry or lawyer.
3. Give an opinion
Many states require that you give the tenant written notice before you begin requesting an eviction. You may also need to give the tenant time to correct the problem before you can apply. Ohio law, for example, requires landlords to give a written warning three days before you begin the eviction process, but doesn’t require you to give the tenant extra time to correct the problem. This notice, called an eviction notice, should clearly state your intention to evict the tenant. If the laws in your area require you to give the tenant time to correct the action before filing the claim, you must also include that time frame on the notice.
When writing the notice, include the delivery date, how much time the tenant has to correct the problem, and when you will file the eviction. Hand the notice to the tenant or post it on the tenant’s front door.
4. File your eviction
With knowledge of the law and after giving your tenant a chance, you are finally ready to begin the eviction process by requesting a court hearing. If your state requires you to give notice, file the eviction the morning after the waiting period has expired. If your state requires you to notify, you can apply immediately. You can file a claim with your local court and you will need to pay a fee to initiate the process. After you have completed the documents, the clerk will give you a hearing date and the court will notify the tenant.
5. Prepare for court
Prepare your case before the eviction hearing. Gather all the documents you have, including your lease, a copy of the written notice you provided, bank statements showing missing rent payments or returned checks, and records of all communications between you and the tenant. Prepare what you are going to say to the judge before entering the courtroom. To try. Even if you don’t want to look like you’re reading a script, you need to know what you want to say and feel comfortable in front of a judge. Don’t regret leaving out details.
On the day of the hearing, you and the tenant will have the opportunity to present your case to the judge. The judge will then decide whether to continue the eviction or allow the tenant to stay in the property. If you are successful, the judge will give you instructions to evict the tenant.
6. Evict the tenant
After the hearing, the tenant will have a set period to vacate the property. Some states require evicted tenants to vacate the premises within 48 hours. Some offer five days. If that time expires and the tenant stays, you will need to visit your property with the sheriff, who will remove the tenant and drop all personal effects on the sidewalk. Use this time to inspect the property for damage. Take a camera with you and take good photos. You can sue the tenant for significant damages in civil court.
Final word and warning
Carefully follow the section on how to evict a tenant in the Landlord and Tenant Act. Do not try to evict the tenant yourself. Changing the locks on the tenant’s apartment or the complex’s front door, removing the tenant’s belongings or shutting down utilities can have serious legal repercussions. Most states allow tenants to sue a landlord who attempts to self-evict. If you are dealing with a problematic tenant, you deserve a solution. Don’t give up your power by making small mistakes.
Did you have to evict a tenant? What challenges did you encounter in the process and were you successful?