As a landlord, your hope is to bring on high-quality tenants that abide by the lease and pay rent on time each month. However, you might be surprised at how likely it is that you could find yourself going through the eviction process at some point in your tenure.
In the past few years, US eviction data was compiled and revealed just how common evictions actually are. In fact, in 2016 alone, 2.3 million evictions were filed in America.
Our goal is to provide landlords across the country with the resources and legal information necessary to operate their properties in a lawful manner. Today, we’re going to take a look at the eviction process.
As you may know, we’re currently in the midst of an eviction moratorium. However, this is set to end on June 30, 2021, which means that you may need to brush up on eviction laws. Read on to learn everything you need to know about eviction.
What Is Eviction?
Eviction does not just refer to the process of removing a tenant from your property. It actually refers to a long and sometimes complicated legal process that involves quite a bit of paperwork.
Because the eviction process is a legal process, it is important that landlords ensure that they have legal grounds to file an eviction before beginning. These legal grounds vary from state to state, although the commonality is that the tenant must have broken the conditions of the lease in a serious (and oftentimes, repeated) manner. One of the most common causes of evictions in America is the prolonged failure to pay rent, although severe damage to the property and other offenses may qualify as legal grounds to evict a tenant.
How Can You Avoid Eviction?
The eviction process is a costly one, often leading to a few thousand dollars in expenses for the landlord. Properly screening tenants before signing the lease–running background and credit checks and asking for references, for example–costs far less than an eviction. If you are not already screening your tenants thoroughly, you may want to start this process as a means to avoid future evictions.
How Long Does the Eviction Process Take?
In some states, it will take 3 weeks and in others, it will take 3 months or more to complete. However, there are circumstances that can lengthen the eviction process or bring it to a halt.
What Steps Are Involved in the Eviction Process?
Now, let’s take a look the steps that are involved in the eviction process. Depending on where you live, different terminology may apply to these steps and the time period of each step may also differ. Remember, the specific eviction laws can vary widely from state to state, so make sure that you are familiar with your own state’s laws before beginning the eviction process.
Step 1: Filing and Delivering the Pay or Quit Notice
Evictions do not start and stop with removing a tenant from the property. In fact, the eviction process requires that you give the tenant in question a chance to rectify the issue financially before removing them from the property. This is called the Pay or Quit process, also known as the Pay or Vacate process.
A Pay or Quit notice informs the tenant in question of their specific violations. It also lays out the steps and timeline by which they can comply with their lease and avoid eviction. While you can post a Pay or Quit notice on the door of the property, we highly recommend that you also send a copy by certified mail in order to have a legal record of when it was sent.
The timeline by which the tenant must comply varies from state to state. To get an idea of how this works, take a look at this breakdown of state laws pertaining to paying overdue rent in order to avoid eviction.
Step 2: Moving Forward With Eviction Forms if Tenants Do Not Comply
If the tenant complies with the Pay or Quit notice, the eviction process comes to a halt. However, if they fail to comply, it’s time to file eviction forms through the court.
First, you will file an Eviction Complaint that states the issues and the tenant’s failure to comply with the Pay or Quit notice. Then, you will file a Summons which brings the eviction case to the attention of the tenant. The Summons is typically delivered to the tenant via your local Sherriff’s office.
Step 3: Removing the Tenant
Once the court awards you the eviction, it is time for the tenant to vacate the property. Remember, any harassment or intimidation on your end is unlawful, so maintain a professional demeanor during this time.
State law will determine how you can go about removing the tenant’s belongings from the property. If they do not take their belongings on their own, make sure you know whether this removal falls under the jurisdiction of the court or if it is your responsibility to take care of it.
Factors That Can Affect the Eviction Process
Each individual eviction process will come with its own set of challenges. However, there are a few scenarios that come up more frequently than others that can affect the eviction process. These include:
- Tenant compliance with the Pay or Quit notice, which will bring the eviction process to a halt
- Landlord’s acceptance of full or partial rent, which may terminate the eviction process
- Tenant’s declaration of bankruptcy, which will pause the eviction process until bankruptcy proceedings are complete
Remember, the best way to avoid this entire process is to screen your tenants properly before signing a lease with them.
Navigate the Eviction Process Within the Constraints of the Law
No landlord looks forward to dealing with the eviction process. If you find yourself dealing with a tenant who is living in violation of the lease, make sure that you navigate the eviction process within the constraints of the laws in your state.
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