You may own an entire apartment building, or several condos that you rent out for extra income. Of course, with anything that involves tenants, there are challenges that accompany your role as landlord. What if one stops paying their rent? What are your options when it comes to evicting the tenant?
What is eviction?
An eviction is a lawsuit filed by the landlord to remove the tenant from their rental property. Evictions often happen if the tenant has stopped paying rent or is habitually late with the rent. Depending on their lease terms, they can be evicted for any number of reasons. Rules for eviction vary by state. Unfortunately, it can be a long, expensive process. You must also handle the process carefully.
You cannot simply file an eviction notice, you must file an eviction lawsuit. Also, to begin the eviction process, you must terminate the lease agreement or tenancy. This is usually done in writing. There are three types of termination notices that you may issue. These are the notices for cause, which means tenants have fewer protections. They include:
- Pay rent or quit- this is for tenants who have violated their lease agreement and have only days to either pay the rent they owe or be forced to move out.
- Cure or quit notice- this is for tenants who have violated a term of their lease like not having a dog in the apartment. They will only have a certain amount of time to take care of the situation ("cure") or move out. Depending on which state you live in, it can take anywhere from 3-30 days.
- Unconditional quit notice- with this notice there is no amount of time given to fix a situation. Tenants can be evicted in extreme cases for damaging property or participating in illegal activities like selling drugs.
There is also a notice for termination without cause. It can be used for a tenant who has done nothing wrong. Landlords can use a 30-day, 60-day or 90-day notice to vacate to end month-to-month rentals. But some cities who participate in rent control may require the landlord to prove a significant violation in the lease before it can be terminated.
Once the tenant has been notified with the termination notice, you can go to court and move forward with your eviction lawsuit. Then, the court will schedule a hearing date. Depending on your state, it can be a couple of weeks to a few months. On your court date, if the judge rules in your favor, the court will issue you a document called a "writ of possession." The landlord gives it to the county sheriff who then posts the notice for the tenants to vacate the premises. It could take 3 to 15 days for the sheriff to post it, and the tenants usually have about five days to leave.
If you are considering evicting a tenant, it is good to know your options in order to make a decision.