Sometimes, a landlord may need to evict a tenant. It’s important to note that eviction laws vary by state. If you aren’t familiar with your state’s eviction laws, you should either understand the local laws first or hire a lawyer to provide legal guidance aside. Although the local laws may differ, the eviction process is the same nationwide.
According to the Tenants Union, the first step a landlord must take to evict a tenant is to provide the tenant with a written eviction notice. There are several kinds of eviction notices that a tenant can receive from a landlord.
Regardless of the cause, the notice must be properly served. The tenant must also have failed to either pay, vacate, or comply within a certain time period.
One or more of these violations must have occurred before a landlord can legally send an eviction notice. A landlord must personally serve an eviction notice to a tenant. It does not have to be notarized or delivered through an authority agent.
Deliver an eviction notice
The four following eviction notices are the most common, although other types of eviction notices may be served as well.
- 14-Day Vacate Notice
- 10-Day Notice to Comply or Vacate
- 3-Day Notice for Waste, Nuisance, or Illegal Activity
- No-Cause Notice
Causes for eviction
One common reason for an eviction is failure to pay rent. If a tenant does not pay rent on time, in full, and in accordance with the rental agreement, the landlord may take legal action through the 14-Day Vacate Notice. In order to win in court for a tenant’s non-payment of rent, the landlord must either prove that the tenant has not paid his or her rent on time, or the tenant must establish that he or she does not owe the rent the landlord is seeking to collect.
Tenants should keep in mind that receiving a 14-day vacate notice is a warning that payment is due within 14 days. Legally, the tenant cannot kick a tenant out during that time, as eviction is a court process. A tenant may pay the overdue funds at this time to avoid legal consequences.
If a tenant breaches a section of the rental agreement or violates terms of the rental agreement, the landlord can take action to evict the tenant. This is called a 10-day Notice to Comply or Vacate. This notice should indicate which section of the rental agreement the tenant has violated, using concrete evidence including photos if possible.
Upon receipt of this notice, the tenant has 10 days to correct his or her actions and comply with the section of the contract in question. Instead of demonstrating compliance during this time, the tenant can also choose to leave the premises. A common example of a violation is a tenant keeping pets in a living space even if the contract specifies that pets are not allowed. That may include pets of a certain breed.
The Waste, Nuisance, or Illegal Activity charge is a serious charge that requires quick action on the tenant’s part. The acts of “nuisance” and “waste” are considered to be “gross offenses.” This means they might cause major destruction on the property or even be grounds for legal action such as arrest.
A violation in this category can also include criminal activity. A tenant does not have the option to comply with this notice. Instead, the tenant must vacate the property immediately to avoid legal action.
The fourth most common is the 20-Day Notice to Terminate Tenancy. This notice is used most often by landlords who have month-to-month rentals. A landlord seeking to remove a monthly tenant must give him or her a notice of at least 20 days to move out. As with the other notices, a landlord must have a valid reason to evict a tenant.
Retaliatory or discriminatory causes are not permissible. One way to make sure that your renters pay on time is to set the right price.
Summons and Complaint
A notice essentially serves as a written warning to the tenant. If the tenant does not vacate the premises or take action within a specified period of time, the landlord can proceed with the legal eviction process.
The next step is to issue a Summons and Complaint. In this case, the landlord must seek the help of a neutral third party to get involved. While a landlord must personally hand a tenant an eviction notice, a third party authority, such as a lawyer or law enforcement officer, must deliver a Summons and Complaint. While the landlord may prepare the initial eviction notice, the Summons and Complaint is a legal document that must be prepared by an attorney.
Show Cause Hearing
Along with a Summons and Complaint, the landlord must also give the tenant a Show Cause Hearing. This notice provides a specific court date for when the tenant must make an appearance. This gives the tenant the opportunity to present any defenses he or she has. It is also an easy way for a landlord to take legal action. The judge will hear both sides of the argument from landlord and tenant. Sometimes, the judge makes a ruling based on the information presented. The judge can also order the case to trial.
Dealing With tenant defenses
Rental agreements can raise many questions and misunderstandings. Sometimes, a landlord and tenant may not see eye-to-eye on a tenant’s behavior. Therefore, a tenant may protest or show resistance when handed an eviction notice. The tenant’s defense, which is usually permitted, can add weeks or months to the eviction process, especially when the case goes to court.
Landlords should note that tenants may also look for faults and wrong-doings on the landlord’s part that may further delay the process. If you regularly have difficult tenants, you may want to buy insurance that covers tenant default.
The eviction process is a legal process that allows a landlord to remove a tenant for a valid reason. Sometimes, the process goes to court. It can also be delayed based on a tenant’s response. The most important consideration for a landlord to keep in mind is that eviction laws vary by state.