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Tenant Eviction: The Do’s and Don’ts

Eviction notice on door of house with brass door knob. Fictitious address, ID, signature and 555 phone number for fictional usage.Being a successful landlord One of the skills needed for property management is knowing when and how to evict a tenant. Recognizing why you can and cannot evict a tenant enables you to be a responsible and lawful landlord, while also safeguarding tenant rights and preserving a harmonious landlord-tenant relationship.

Understanding Just Cause

The first thing any landlord needs to know is that evicting a tenant is a legal process that ends with a court order. If you own property and wish to evict a tenant, you must be familiar with the applicable state and federal laws governing landlord-tenant interactions in order to do so. Evicting a tenant without proper legal grounds could lead to fines or even a lawsuit.

Evicting a renter requires what is called “just cause.” To be able to evict a tenant for just cause, you need a valid reason, such as the tenant’s failure to pay rent, damage to the property, or breach of the lease agreement. A renter can only be evicted for cause.

Reasons You Can Evict

Nonpayment of rent is one of the most prevalent reasons landlords evict tenants. If your renter fails to pay their rent on time, you can issue them formal notice that they have a set number of days to pay or vacate the property, as required by state law. If the tenant fails to comply, you may file for eviction. Just make sure you respect the conditions of your lease as well as any state and municipal laws that may apply.

Property damage is another typical reason for eviction. If your tenant has caused serious damage to the property that goes beyond regular wear and tear, you can serve them with a written notice requiring them to remedy the damage or depart the property. If the tenant fails to comply, you may file for eviction.

Other reasons for evicting a tenant include breaching other terms of their lease. If your tenant has a pet and your contract prohibits pets, you can issue them formal notice to remove the pet or depart the property. If the tenant fails to comply, you may file for eviction. The same is true for all other lease terms.

Reasons You Cannot Evict

Even if a renter has done something that appears to cause eviction, there are a few more reasons why you cannot remove them. You cannot, for example, evict a tenant because they have requested that you make repairs to the property or have complained about the circumstances of the rental unit. Furthermore, you are not permitted to evict a renter based on their race, color, religion, national origin, gender, familial circumstances, or disability. These protected classes cannot be legally used to justify eviction, and attempting to do so may result in a discrimination lawsuit.

Carrying Out an Eviction

Evicting a tenant requires certain steps. First, you must provide the tenant a formal notice explaining the eviction and when they must leave. Next, file a court eviction petition and serve the renter. If the tenant skips court, you may get a default judgment. If the tenant refuses to go, you may have local authorities evict them.

Evicting tenants is never easy, but sometimes necessary. Understanding why you can and cannot evict a renter and the eviction process will decrease legal risks and create a fair and pleasant living environment for all parties.


Property management experts can advise you on eviction situations. Contact a rental property professional at your local Real Property Management office now!

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