It’s not something that property investors enjoy, but sometimes you simply have to evict a tenant. While the easy answer to missing rent payments is eviction, the actual process is rarely a walk in the park. There are plenty of attorneys that can help with this legal proceeding, but there are five important steps to take to protect yourself from a legal battle. Here’s what you should do.
1. Establish Legality
Your reasoning for eviction must be legal. Luckily, there are plenty of justifiable instances for your course of action. A tenant could fail to pay rent, commit a lease violation, or damage the property. If they threaten the safety of other tenants or your property, that is also grounds for eviction.
You cannot, however, evict someone because their personality clashes with your own. Minor disagreements and annoying but non-threatening behaviors are also protected under the law. When you do have legal justification, don’t hesitate to get the process started.
2. Notify the Tenant
You must notify the tenant of your intention to evict them. This is done in the form of a Cure or Quit Notice. It outlines the violation, asking them to either cease their actions (cure) or move out on their own accord (quit).
You can tape this notice to their door, send it via email, or ship it through first-class mail. This step is vital in proving to the court that you have done all you can to notify the tenant of their potential eviction. While some states do not require a Cure or Quit Notice, it is in your best interest to write one up anyway.
3. Court Filing
If the tenant does not cease their behavior or the violation and does not move out, you begin filing an eviction lawsuit. All you need to do is head to the courthouse and file the appropriate documents. Then, you will receive a date for your hearing.
The process can take anywhere from a week to a few months. During this time, you must be patient and allow the tenant to continue living on your property. Tenants often stop paying rent once they are notified of the hearing, which you may be able to cover with landlord insurance.
4. The Hearing
During your wait, now is the time to gather all of your evidence to prove legal grounds for an eviction. Make sure to bring your Cure or Quit Notice, as well. Copies of the lease agreement, rent payment records, and any communication you’ve had with the tenant are also valuable.
5. Regaining Your Property
If the judge rules in your favor, you are now in full possession of the property again. You can change the locks and begin managing the property once more. However, it isn’t uncommon for tenants to refuse to move out.
If you run into this scenario, under no circumstances are you to try and remove the tenant yourself. You should call local authorities at this time to handle that aspect for you. The last thing you want is for them to file a lawsuit against you.