Time to Evict? Here are 7 Basic Principles to Follow

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Eviction Notice

So the time has come where you have to evict a tenant.  We will not get into the many reasons that could force the hand toward eviction, as that is a whole different entry.  While each state may have different rules and regulations surrounding a tenant eviction and what the renters rights are versus the protections in place for rental home owners, here is some framework with 7 basic steps to consider if you have to go down the path toward evicting a tenant.

  1. Understanding the local and national laws surrounding eviction.  Knowing your rights and that of the tenant are imperative.  While eviction is the least desirable outcome, it may be the only recourse a landlord has to resolve a situation to protect their interests. Having a very good understanding of what the laws are is going to be the first step in the process.  Being schooled on this will help remove any possible emotion that may exist and help focus on the landlord on the process and task at hand.
  2. Have a detailed and documented reason for the eviction.  Whatever took place that is leading up to the eviction should be well documented.  This includes any issues that have transpired in which the tenant violated the lease and/or any documentation to help the landlord “make a case” should the tenant legally object to the eviction.  If you are beyond the point of being able to rectify the situation, line up your ducks and begin taking action.
  3. Provide formal notification to the tenant that the eviction process is underway.  While you may have had, or intend to have a face to face conversation or even a phone call, it is important to provide formal, written notification of intent to evict the tenant.  This is typically the first step in the process in which each party is formally in the know of the proceedings.
  4. File eviction notification with the appropriate local agency/jurisdiction.  As referenced in Step #1, it is important to know the local and national laws surrounding an eviction so that you can proceed formally and legally with the proper court.  
  5. Once the courts have been notified, it is likely that if the tenant does not go quietly, you will need to make an appearance in court to present your case for eviction.  This may include any and all documentation that the landlord has had with the tenant which violated the lease and/or triggered cause for eviction.  This is where any documented incidents that have transpired are going to be important as you are now making a case in front of a judge as to why the eviction is taking place.
  6. Assuming the eviction holds up in the appropriate court of law, the next step is the actual eviction in which the tenant is notified of the amount of time they have to vacate the premises, but this is not quite the end of the process.  It will be important to keep the framework of the lease in place as it relates to the condition of the property and how that may or may not impact the security deposit.  
  7. Collect any final fees that includes past due rent, fees accrued in maintaining, fixing or cleaning the property which again, should all be documented with receipts.  While a court may have ruled in the favor of the landlord, do not rule out the possibility that the outgoing tenant will attempt to  get even on the way out, so it is important to ensure that the lease is still being enforced with all incoming our outgoing fees being finalized with the tenant.

This may be the most difficult aspect of property management and yet, likely the most important as it puts all of the work that has been put in under a legal microscope.  While troubling, protecting yourself and the asset is paramount under the circumstances of an eviction; avoid learning the hard way and being familiar with legal process and your role within it.