The Landlords Handbook: Your Guide to Evicting a Tenant Legally

Did you know that in 2016, landlords in the United States evicted seven tenants every minute? That comes out to over 3.5 million tenants evicted over the course of the year. If you own rental properties or are planning on investing in them, you need to know what goes into evicting a tenant.

It isn’t easy to evict a tenant, and you need to be well-read on tenant rights and the tenant eviction laws in your state before moving forward with the process.

The good news is that you’ve come to the right place to learn how to evict a tenant quickly and adhere to the tenant eviction laws. Continue reading to learn more about how to evict a tenant from your rental properties.

Steps for Evicting a Tenant

Websites like Zillow Rental Manager and Cozy are great for properly vetting potential tenants that want to rent and live at your properties. Despite measures like that, it is still likely that you’ll end up with a bad tenant every now and then.

When things go downhill and it comes time for you to evict a tenant quickly there are steps that you need to follow. Here is a closer look at those steps.

1. Know Your Local Tenant Eviction Laws

Before you start the process of evicting a tenant, you need to make sure that you’re adhering to and obeying your local laws. These laws mandate that there is a process that landlords need to follow when evicting a tenant from their property. For common reasons why tenants get evicted visit

If you start the process of trying to evict a tenant and don’t do so within the law it is likely that you’ll be held liable and be required to pay damages to the tenant. This is all despite the tenant being in the wrong in the situation.

2. Make Sure Your Reason Is Valid

The reasons why you can evict a tenant vary from state to state, so be aware of the reasons that are allowed in your state. Once you know that, make sure that the reason you want to evict your tenant is a valid reason that is allowed by your state’s laws.

Some common reasons for evictions are that the tenant hasn’t been paying their rent bill, they’ve violated one or more terms of the lease agreement, or they’ve been destroying your property. Another valid reason for eviction is that the tenant is conducting illegal activities on the property.

3. Speak With Your Tenant

Before you commit your time and money towards evicting a tenant, talk to them and try to find a resolution to the issue in a way where everyone wins. This will prevent things from going to court, which is costly for everyone involved.

Despite the convenience of texting or messaging through social media, meet face-to-face with your tenant. This can lead to surprising progress and results. For the best results, arrange the meeting for a neutral location rather than the rental property.

4. Deliver a Written Eviction Notice

If that doesn’t work, the next step you’ll want to take is to deliver a written eviction notice to the tenant. The laws of your state will dictate how you need to handle the delivery of the eviction notice. Most often, it involves personally serving the eviction notice to the tenant in question along with proof of receipt.

The written eviction notice needs to have the date by which the tenant needs to be moved out, the amount the tenant owes in unpaid rent, and the number of days the tenant has to leave the property before things go to court.

5. File the Eviction in Court

Once you start the eviction process at court, the court clerk will ask you to pay a filing fee and then proceed to schedule a court hearing. They’ll likely ask for a copy of the notice you gave to the tenant as well as evidence that the tenant had the proper amount of time to respond to the eviction notice.

After the clerk has concluded that you’ve taken the proper steps for eviction, the court will start with sending a process server to notify the tenant that a lawsuit is pending against them.

6. Prepare Documents and Attend the Hearing

There are a number of documents that you’ll need to prepare and bring with you for the court hearing. This is so that the judge of the court session can review it. You’ll want to bring the original executed lease, all payment records of the tenant, as well as copies and notes of dialogue.

You’ll also need to bring a copy of the eviction notice you wrote for the tenant and the proof of receipt of the written eviction notice.

7. Evict Them

Most times, the tenant that is getting evicted won’t bother to show up to the court date. When this happens the judge will likely rule in your favor and move forward with the eviction process. If the tenant does show up, the judge will listen to your side as well as the tenant’s side. If you’ve done everything right, the judge should rule in your favor.

From there, the tenant is ordered to move off of the property. It’s possible that you’ll need to work with your local law enforcement to ensure that this happens. This is especially true if the tenant refuses to leave.

8. Get a Judgment and Collect Overdue Rent

Depending on how your local courts work, it is possible that you’ll get a judgment that includes any overdue rent that the tenant never paid. This also applies to any damages that the tenant caused to your property. Sometimes you’ll need to file a separate lawsuit to collect money for the damage and overdue rent.

No matter which route you take, you should hire an attorney and a collections agent to help with collecting this money. They’ll handle all of the difficult and frustrating parts for you, including tracking down the tenant if they try to disappear.

Now You’re Ready To Evict a Tenant

Evicting a tenant is something that no landlord ever looks forward to, but it is part of renting properties out to people. When the time comes that you do need to evict a tenant it is important that you follow the right steps. Be sure to check that the reason for eviction is a valid reason in your state.

You’ll also want to hand-deliver a written eviction notice to the tenant and have proof of receipt. Once you’ve done that, you’ll file the eviction in court with a court clerk and then attend a hearing on the eviction.

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